Local Boys and Girls Club receives award for reading enrichment

Published 10:59 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia, Suffolk Unit recently was chosen as one of 10 schools nationally that will receive a $3,200 award from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to continue its AfterSchool KidzLit program.

The Suffolk Unit was one of 18 sites across the country to pilot the KidzLit program for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America during the 2009-2010 school year, said Reggie Carter, unit director.

“It was a very proud moment,” Carter said. “I was overjoyed. There was a real feeling of pride and accomplishment.”

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KidzLit is an enrichment program created by the Developmental Studies Center in California that encourages children’s love for reading. Through the program, kids develop character and leadership skills while learning about different cultures, traditions and concepts.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America decided to implement the KidzLit program because it matched their goals of producing responsible, caring citizens, said Erica Stevens, Senior Director of Education and the Arts.

The Boys and Girls Club was given 140 books in various reading levels from kindergarten through eighth grade. High schoolers who attend the program read to the younger children. The program at the Suffolk Unit served 80 youths, all members, last year and it will serve 50 members this year.

The Suffolk location was chosen from the original groups that received grants to pilot the program because they went above and beyond in serving the members through the reading program, Stevens said. They served more than just one age or grade group, stayed true to the program, collaborated with other organizations and individuals to maximize the impact of the program and used the training the leader received to train other staff and volunteer to help facilitate the program.

“Clubs like the club there really help us move the needle on getting our members focused on education,” Stevens said. “We want to recognize the good work that they are doing.”

The Suffolk Unit will use the awarded funds to host a family literacy event and purchase more materials.