A financial auditor, an operations manager, a General Motors retiree, a pastor.
What do these people have in common? They’re all men, and they all visited Wilmington public schools Nov. 3 to read to primary-school children.
It’s all part of the 100 Men Reading Day organized by Christiana Care’s Learning Institute, the United Way of Delaware, Brandywine Valley Friends and the national organization Reading Is Fundamental. Christiana Care hosted a kick-off breakfast for the initiative that day.
The event is the brainchild of Stacey Henry, president of Brandywine Valley Friends, and her 10-year-old daughter, Imani.
“When I was in second grade I had trouble reading,” said Imani. “Then my mom took me to Reading ASSIST. I had the best tutor in the whole world. Now I can read just about anything.” She wants other children to share her passion for reading.
The school visits don’t just promote literacy. They also encourage men to get involved as positive role models for children in the community, said Rosa Colon-Kolacko, Ph.D., MBA, Christiana Care’s senior vice president of System Learning and Chief Diversity Officer. Studies indicate many children lack a male role model in their lives, she said.
“The 100 Men Reading Day gives men an opportunity to interact with students in a school setting,” she said. “I encourage our leaders from Christiana Care to volunteer in the program.”
Christiana Care’s First State School for chronically ill children, a collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education through the Red Clay Consolidated School District, welcomed a reader that day.
“It was exciting to be part of this special reading program because literacy is so important for our young people, as well as providing them with positive male role models,” said Coleen O’Connor, First State School program director. “I truly enjoyed partnering with our Christiana Care Learning Institute and the United Way to make this day happen.”
Terrence Townsend, operations manager in Environmental Services at Christiana Hospital, read “Clifford Goes to School” and “CH” to 24 kindergarten students at Thomas Edison Charter School. “It was great to have an opportunity to volunteer to encourage kids to read,” he said.
“If I have the opportunity, I will do it again,” said Ryan Siddons, financial auditor in Christiana Care’s Internal Audit Department. He read to first graders at the Kuumba Academy Charter School. He knows the benefits of reading aloud to children as he does it at home. “The Kuumba Academy kids were interested and grateful,” he said.
Organizers are planning the next 100 Men Reading Day for the spring. Stay tuned for more information, including how to volunteer.