A group of organizations focused on improving the lives of local children are challenging parents to make reading a part of their daily lives.
The 30/30 Reading Challenge is an effort by the Lighthouse Foundation, the Corinth Boys and Girls Club, Project Attention, the homework club at Farmington Arms Apartments overseen by Crosswind Ministries and the Corinth Elementary School extended day afterschool tutoring program to address the issue of childhood reading by asking parents to read with their children for 30 minutes each day throughout the month of November.
“We dare parents to take 30 minutes a day for 30 days and see if it makes a difference,” said Lighthouse Foundation Executive Director Gary Caveness.
Statistics show 78 percent of Mississippi fourth graders living in urban areas are below the proficiency level for reading. Caveness said when students can't read at grade level they quickly get behind in other areas. As they grow up they continue to get further behind and often end up as adults struggling to function in a society where it's more important than ever to have an education in order to succeed, he said.
He said the problem is particularly difficult in urban areas where there's often less emphasis on reading at home as parents struggle to deal with day to day pressures and the demands and challenges of life.
The goal of the reading challenge is to put the importance of reading front and center in the minds of parents and push them to make reading with their children a daily habit.
“If we do it with our kids and show them the importance of it, they'll learn to love it,” he said.
The effort will culminate on Nov. 29-30 during the Lighthouse Foundation basketball tournament when participating students will be recognized for their success with awards including several prizes.
Caveness said it's fitting that all three organizations are working together on the effort because they are all working toward the same goal and serving the same community.
Boys and Girls Club Unit Director Kristy Grice said she's excited about the opportunity to partner in the effort.
“It's a great opportunity. There's a great big need and we've got to all see the effect of the need so we can come together and make a difference,” said Grice.
Shirley Rolland with Project Attention said they've had a longstanding focus on working to boost achievement in the children they serve and are glad to be able to partner with other groups in the community to focus on boosting reading skills.
Barbie Hight, a member of the Lighthouse staff who works with the after school tutoring program at the center, said they've put an extra emphasis on reading with the children they work with every day and are already seeing the difference it's making. She said many of the kids are coming in excited about reading and immediately asking to read with them.
She said with the increased focus on reading there's a need for more volunteers to work one on one with the students at all three organizations and they welcome anyone who wants to work with them to help make a difference.
To learn more about the effort, call the Lighthouse Foundation at 662-286-0091.