Kiwainas Club Reading Program a page turner
Reading with children is a small effort that can have a big impact. Thursday morning the local Kiwanis Club brought books to first- and second-graders at Parley’s Park Elementary School. Students selected a book and then chose an adult reading partner to help them sound out words. Afterwards, the kids wrapped their book and took them home.
The local Kiwanis club focuses on children’s literacy. Their president, Debbie Hoffmeyer, said, "We’re dedicated to serving the community and have made it our mission to bring books to the children."
This is done through their Reading Enrichment Program. All the middle schools in the Park City district are participating.
Kiwanis is a national organization that started a chapter in Park City December 2001 to support the Key Club at Park City High School. Today they have a dozen members serving their mission: "We’re changing the world one community at a time, and one child at a time."
Charter member, Gene Piland says of the mission, "Then it’s something we can do. Even though there are only 12 of us we can influence 500 to 600 kids."
The members take pride in knowing they’re making a difference. Allen Woll a former Key Club member has been involved with Kiwanis for a couple of months now. "I’ve always wanted to give back to the community. It’s very gratifying. For those who don’t, they’re missing something," he said.
Reading is an especially positive experience for members because it demonstrates, "kids still want to read books, not just play video games. It’s encouraging," Piland said.
Students were enthusiastic about their visitors.
Abigail Jager, who had not picked out her book yet, said it’s important to read with kids because, "It helps them know how to read harder books."
Jager’s mother reads to her at night, "I read a page and then she reads a page. I don’t know how it feels, it feels good."
Mythology-book fan Chandler Williams said, "I think (reading) is fun because it helps me learn and it’s learning new stuff about the gods and stuff"
Liam Brown said it’s fun to read with high school Key Club members "because they help me learn about more reading and like biographies and things."
The high schoolers enjoy it too.
PCHS Key Club sophomore Tessa Lopez said, "I think it’s important because we actually get involved in the community. The feeling’s just nice, giving back to the community. After you do it you feel nice."
Junior Nicole Flake said, "It was great and it was fun and it was interesting to see their levels of reading. It just varied a lot, even though they’re all in the same grade."
Sophomore Lindsay Price said, "Reading is the foundation of their whole education. Making them productive readers now will set great habits."
It’s important to have grown-ups with you reading, said Rob Kaylor, "because you have company. You’re not reading in your head. Someone’s listening to you read so you’re not all alone."
But few children, if any, feel as strongly about reading as does Robby Dragoo.
"You can learn from reading any kind of book," Dragoo said. "Every kind of book you read, of non-fiction, you learn more. Kids like to read fiction, sometimes grown-ups help them. Some kids are so good at reading they can even start at age 3."
"When students get older, they can read even longer books," Dragoo continued.
"Some grown-ups read so long books that they have 500 pages. That long. Or even more!" Dragoo said. "Everybody has to read to learn and learn to read. And you must try to read and learn because if you don’t you don’t learn anything about everything you ever heard of."
The Kiwanis club is always looking for new members. They meet at the Yarrow at 8 a.m. on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.
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$1 million in CARES Act funding has been set aside for Summit County nonprofits, and the Park City Community Foundation is working to organize the fund and how to choose recipients. The goal is to start accepting applications Oct. 14.