PC Reads serves up a live Gin and Phonics benefit
PCHS alum and artist will give a presentation
PC Reads is ready to bring back its Gin and Phonics fundraiser.
The dyslexia advocacy nonprofit has scheduled the event for May 14 at the Kimball Art Center, said Executive Director Elissa Aten.
“We are very excited to come together in person for a fundraiser in 2019,” she said. “We will have hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails, live music with Ryan Walsh, and an opportunity drawing and a splendid silent auction.”
The opportunity drawing features four packages, each valued at more than $500 worth of donations given by the local community. Opportunity drawing tickets are available online for those who can’t attend the event, Aten said.
“We have an outdoor package, a health and wellness package, a datenight package and a family-fun package,” she said.
The silent auction, open to those attending the event, features staycations, a firetruck ride home from school for students, sporting event tickets and sports memorabilia, according to Aten.
“Our goal this year is to raise at least $25,000,” she said.
The funds will benefit PC Read’s three programs — the advocate program, the MIND (Mentoring, Inspiring and Nurturing Differences) program and the elevating literacy program, Aten said.
The advocate program, which provides personalized assistance to help families understand dyslexia, special education laws, interventions, accommodations and test interpretation, has assisted more than 50 families this year, she said.
“National estimates suggest that up to 1 in 5 students in a single classroom are dyslexic,” Aten said. “If you look at students who manifest poor reading skills, approximately 70% to 80% are due to dyslexia, whether they are identified or not.”
The PC Reads advocate program also includes free dyslexia screenings for families who are concerned about their children’s reading this year, according to Aten.
“We have screened more than 35 students, ranging from first graders to seniors in high school,” she said. “We also have four new advocates, who are completing their certifications this spring.”
The MIND program holds four events during the school year — two social activities and two educational programs, Aten said.
The educational programs include a self-advocacy workshop and an assistive technology workshop, she said.
“While initially designed for dyslexic students, programming is open to all students in the Park City area in grades kindergarten through 12th, with learning differences who would like to participate,” Aten said.
Lastly, the elevating literacy program is designed to ensure that effective reading instruction is provided to all students by educating and supporting parents, students and teachers.
“We do this through community events that feature expert speakers, a grant program, and providing free resource books about reading disabilities to local educators,” she said.
The event will also include the fifth Elevating Literacy Award presentation.
“This year’s recipient is Alane Gaspari, who is an interventionist at Parley’s Park Elementary School,” Aten said. “Anyone in the community can nominate someone they feel deserves the award, and then a small committee reviews the nominations and selects the recipient.”
Another Gin and Phonics highlight will be a presentation by visual artist Chad Starling.
Starling, a 1999 Park City High School graduate, has dyslexia and works with various dyslexia advocacy nonprofits around the country.
He is looking forward to returning to his hometown to talk about his experience with parents and educators.
“It wasn’t until college that I realized I was smart because the public school system kind of broke me,” Starling said. “Dyslexia gave me a certain amount of empathy and sensitivity for people who struggle, so I like to take any chance I get to encourage kids and talk with parents. I know the people who will be there, the adults, most likely have children who are dyslexic. And I can share my experience, speaking as a parent. I have three kids, and I’m sure our oldest is dyslexic.”
Ironically, Starling’s art is created from words and sentences, something he started while working as a graphic designer.
“I was at work one day looking out my office window and saw this bird,” he said. “For some reason I thought, what if a bird was afraid of heights?”
Starling sketched out the bird and wrote “afraid of heights” in repetition pouring out its mouth.
“That’s when I started just illustrating with words,” he said. “I would turn the words into an abstraction and let the letters lead the design on the paper.”
The cohesion between the form of the drawing and the words felt good to Starling.
“For some reason, it had meaning to me,” he said. “It was like architecture on paper, and that was exciting to me.”
Although he works hard at his art, there are times when Starling’s dyslexia still interrupts his work.
“It’s not that I see things backwards all the time, but I do make silly mistakes that are repeated through the process,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll write an M and it will turn into a W.”
Not only will Starling give a presentation during the Saturday fundraiser, but he will also do an art project with PC Reads’ MIND program participants on Friday, Aten said.
“I think it’s wonderful for individuals and parents to hear from somebody who grew up dyslexic and has been successful despite the obstacles he had to overcome,” she said. “We’re looking forward to bringing him back to Park City.”
When: 6-9 p.m., Saturday, May 14
Where: Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.
This year’s One Book, One Community program will include an array of free events.
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