Rebels team up on reading initiative
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Partners promote literacy through Rebel Reading Challenge
Partnered with organizations throughout the valley, the UNLV Rebel Reading Challenge program is launching to promote literacy and reading skills among students at eight local at-risk elementary schools.
UNLV Athletics is teaming up with SuperPawn, the Clark County School District Partnership Office and Spread the Word Nevada: Kids to Kids to kick-start the program.
“Literacy is the foundation of any successful person — young or old,” said Caroline Ciocca, SuperPawn community relations director. “There isn’t an occupation, sport or anything in life where you don’t need strong literacy skills to take you places.”
The 30-day program was launched by SuperPawn’s corporate office in Fort Worth, Texas, and the initiative was so successful that the team expanded it to a new city — Las Vegas.
“We are thrilled to have a program like this in our town,” Ciocca said. “We want to reach children at an early age to help them become successful adults.”
The Rebel Reading Challenge will reach third, fourth and fifth-graders at their respective schools during assemblies that will feature trivia quizzes, prizes, presentations by UNLV athletics and story time.
Spread the Word Nevada, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote literacy across Southern Nevada, will provide the books for all students to take home after the assemblies.
“STWN encourages literacy in the lives of at-risk children by providing them books of their own, as well as providing family literacy and tutoring/mentoring programs,” said Lisa Habighorst, executive director of Spread the Word Nevada. “When we were approached by SuperPawn to be apart of this collaboration that would encourage the children we serve to read and provide athletic role models for our kids, it was a no-brainer.”
The goal of the Rebel Reading Challenge is to create a fun program that will motivate children — somthing program leaders hope can help counteract the strain placed on schools in the midst of budget cuts.
“We want to create a fun atmosphere for the kids while they learn,” Ciocca said.
“Our partnership with UNLV athletics was vital,” Ciocca added.
Athletes will serve as mentors to the students, providing them with appealing and interesting real-life examples of why literacy is so important.
“Hearing about reading sports playbooks sets to win a game is a much better and more fun perspective in the children’s minds to learn from,” Ciocca said.
“The athletes were wonderful and truly touched these children with their stories,” Habighorst said. “They give our kids a look into the future outside of their own cinder block little world, into what the possibilities can be if they read.Nevada among the top states in the greatest need of programs like the Rebel Reading Challenge.
“The need for literacy in Nevada is extremely high,” Habighorst said. “In Southern Nevada, it is estimated that 41 percent of adults place at literacy levels one and two, which is below the level required by most employers for any entry level job.”
“No question about it, the most important thing that kids can do while they’re in school is learn to ready,” says 98.5 KLUC’s Chet Buchanan, who serves as host for the school assemblies.
“It is so gratifying to see kids get truly exciting about reading… it does a heart good.”