Aug 21, 2014 11:23 AM
Julienne Walsh has been going to Broadmoor Elementary School once a week as a volunteer to give three elementary school students a little extra reading practice.
She does this because like the other 733 United Way Readers she understands that reading is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life.
United Way Readers are changing the odds for first- and second-grade students in Acadia, Lafayette and St. Martin parishes. When children gain extra reading practice they are four times more likely to graduate high school on time.
"United Way Readers aim to help more children reach their full potential," said Keler Williams, United Way of Acadiana director of volunteer mobilization and talent development. "And it's working."
According to the DIBELS Analysis from the Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning, DIBELS Reading Fluency Assessment scores increased for students who participated in the United Way Readers Program. First-grade students' scores increased by 34 points from fall 2013 to spring 2014 and by 69 points for second-graders.
"When people volunteer to read to students in need, it is a win-win for the child, the volunteer, the teacher and the community. United Way Readers directly help children improve their reading scores and their chances of walking across the stage prepared for work and life. Ultimately, Acadiana thrives." Williams explained. "Great things happen when we Live United."
United Way Readers said they have seen the benefits first-hand. Some volunteers have even continued to work with the students beyond the 10-week period because of the impact they said they were seeing it have on the students.
"I could definitely tell that my three (students) grew as readers," Walsh said. "And the teachers informed me that my time and efforts were very much appreciated."
Last year, United Way Readers, which ranged from high school students to adults, gave 1,318 hours of their time to help 312 students improve their reading abilities.
Community volunteers can help to keep children on track academically and increase their chances of graduating high school on time, one book at a time.
Trainings to become a United Way Reader will be held at the following times and locations:
Acadia Parish School Board office's media meeting room
2402 N. Parkerson Ave., Crowley
Aug. 27 and Sept. 3
United Way of Acadiana office
215 E. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette
Aug. 27 and Sept. 3
St. Martin Parish
The Early Learning Center
1004 S. Martin Luther King Dr., St. Martinville
For more information about United Way Readers or to register for a training, go to www.UnitedWayofAcadiana.org/UWReaders or contact Chelsey Roberie, senior volunteer mobilization coordinator, at 337-706-1226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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