August 8th 2013

We live in a vibrant and generous community with many groups promoting literacy. Here are five local programs that focus on creating successful school outcomes for our children.

New Shoes and Books

With back to school excitement in the air the Aprendamos Intervention Team provides new school shoes for children who need them. Caroline Zamora, AIT Communication Specialist says, “Parents are struggling so we help out with new shoes. Reading is critical to learning so we are putting books in homes as well.”

Currently, 165 children in Hatch and Arrey are receiving a pair of shoes and a book. More children are on a waiting list. Sponsors include Steinmann prosthetics, Hatch Mercantile, Tu Media, Aprendamos, Radio of Las Cruces and the Children’s Reading Foundation.

Health and Reading

Ben Archer Health Centers (BAHC) have adopted the Reach out and Read program for children under the age of five. Kara Bower explains, “During well-child visits the medical staff discusses the importance of reading with children and provides a new book. BAHC community healthcare workers visit parents at home to teach the importance of early literacy and provide a free book and educational toy.”

Positive Role models

If you have read this far you may be thinking about getting involved too. Katherine Souza of Big Brothers Big Sisters is ready to show you how one hour a week at a local school can enrich your life and the life of a child.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern New Mexico promotes literacy through the mentoring process. In the school based mentoring program the Big and Little meet one hour per week during the school year at the Little’s school. They eat lunch, work on homework, and play. According to Souza, “The Big is making a difference and building a legacy of “pass it on” caring that will influence generations to come.  The Little gains both immediate and long term benefits from having an adult who listens and provides guidance.” Children who participate in this program are 52% less likely to skip school than youth who have not participated in mentoring.”

Struggling Reader

The NM Lions Crane Reading Foundation offers reading instruction at Camino Real Middle School and the Las Cruces Boys & Girls Club. According to Eldon Steelman, “Our program is effective for students at all reading levels, including high school and adults. It will increase the reading speed of good readers and bring struggling readers up to grade level.  Given the importance of good vision in reading we screen all students to determine if they need glasses. In some cases we also screen for eye tracking problems.  If the parents cannot afford glasses and have no insurance, the Las Cruces Host Lions Club funds eye exams and glasses through Dr. Lucero’s Accutech Eye Care Center.”  For further information call Eldon Steelman 373-2912 or to enroll a student contact Cathy Waters 640-5020.

Family Literacy Expo

A day of fun activities, informative workshops and free books is being planned by the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. Parents are invited to bring the whole family to Lynn Middle School on Saturday, September 21. Festivities begin at 11 am with lunch, followed by literacy workshops, activities and prizes until 3 pm.

Much thanks to those of you who have shared information. This columnist is happy to provide a forum for literacy awareness. Next month, we explore reading opportunities for children provided by local businesses.  Submit your ideas and share your experiences in local reader friendly environments. Read with a Child Every Day!