Kiwanis launches an innovative read-a-thon to help 5000 children learn to love reading.

The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa is launching an innovative literacy project designed to encourage children to become better readers. From April 7 through to April 25, children from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6, attending 16 Ottawa elementary schools will participate in The Kiwanis Precious Minds Read-a-thon.

Developed by the Young Children Priority One Committee of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, the Precious Minds Read-a-thon draws its inspiration from the Hopewell Avenue Public School Read-a-thon. "By all accounts, Hopewell’s Read-a-thon has been an unconditional success, both in academic and fund-raising terms, each year it’s been held," said Howard Whittaker, Chair of the Priority One Committee.

"The Precious Minds School Guide and Tool Kit were developed to help other schools replicate the Hopewell success, by giving them all the elements they need to animate even more fun around reading at school." Based on their experience from the past five Read-a-thons, Hopewell teachers report improved reading skills and more enthusiastic readers after the run of the program. And each year, pledges have increased. Hopewell School Council has raised over $35,000 in five years, with the majority of the pledge money going toward improving the school library.

Here’s how the Read-a-thon works. The Read-a-thon is both a school based and home literacy improvement activity. For the three weeks in April, schools put the spotlight on reading. Teachers organize activities and special events around literacy, incorporating even more reading and writing time into classroom work during this period. Children are asked to make reading a priority every day. Families are encouraged to become cheerleaders and mentors for their children at home to follow through on the commitment. Some schools will use the read-a-thon as a fund-raiser by encouraging parents, neighbours, and friends to make a pledge for every page, chapter or book a child reads during the event. At the end of the program schools tabulate class and school-wide totals to help keep track of reading progress and achievement. T

he Kiwanis Club is confident that this new initiative will be welcomed by teachers who are always looking for new ways to engage and excite students. "The Kiwanis Club has a long history of community service, especially in the area of literacy and children. Teaching kids to read, and to love reading, is a key stepping stone to helping that child build a successful life," Mr. Whittaker said. "As far as we’re concerned, every time a student picks up a book and reads during the Precious Minds Read-a-thon, we’ve achieved our goal."

Schools Participating: Cambridge Street Public School Carleton Heights Public School Christie Public School Connaught Public School D. Roy Kennedy Public School Guardian Angels Georges Vanier Catholic School Hopewell Avenue Public School Le Phare Elementary School Our Lady of Peace Pineview Catholic R. Byrns Curry Public School Regina Street Public School Richmond Public School Robert Bateman Public School Severn Avenue Public School St. Francis of Assisi.

For more information, visit www.ottawakiwanis.org Contact Information: Nancy Bickford Project Manager for Precious Minds Read-a-thon Tel: 613-233-1900 Fax: 613-233-3718 E-mail: office@ottawakiwanis.org Web: www.otttawakiwanis.org