Ready 2 Read brings books to second graders
Rotary International recognized the Ready 2 Read project as the 2009 Outstanding Rotaract Project. Photo courtesy of The Rotaract Club of Birmingham
Second graders in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, have a new library in their classroom, and a buddy who comes to read to them at least once a month, as part of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham's signature service project.
Rotary International recognized the club's Ready 2 Read project as this year's Outstanding Rotaract Project in the International Division during the 2009 Rotaract Preconvention in Birmingham, England, 19 June. In all, seven Rotaract club projects were singled out for honors.
"We are so excited about this honor," said Vincent J. Graffeo, president of the club, who accepted the award along with founding president Michael Mahon. "To receive international recognition by Rotary puts a stamp of validation on our efforts."
Graffeo said the club chose literacy for a service project because it was an area in which they felt they could make an impact and it would allow members to hone their leadership skills. Grade school students in the city of Birmingham lag considerably behind their state and U.S. counterparts in reading test scores and studies show second grade is a pivotal point in reading development. Studies also suggest students spend more time reading if books are in close proximity to classroom activities.
The Ready 2 Read project has provided more than 30,000 books to 129 classrooms at a cost of $150,000. A $100,000 endowment has been set up to maintain the libraries and replace books.
The Birmingham Rotaract Club, which has about 160 members, received its charter in 2004 and is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama.
During the award ceremony, RI President Dong Kurn Lee encouraged the gathered Rotaractors to continue their Rotary experience after their time in Rotaract ends.
“I ask each of you today …. not to wait for an invitation to a Rotary club, ask for an invitation,” Lee said. “If there are no clubs where you live, ask your sponsoring Rotary Club to help you form a new one.”
“Rotaract is such an important part of Rotary,” Lee continued. “You have skills and talents that we need. You are much more than future Rotarians, you are a vital part of the Rotary family.”
Other Outstanding Rotaract Projects recognized during the award ceremony include:
- Africa District: Rotaract Club of Kololo, Uganda, for "Nakasongola Community Outreach Project," providing free medical exams and health education to nearly 900 rural inhabitants of the Nakasongola District of Uganda and planting 300 trees to prevent the area's desertification.
- Asia Pacific Districts: Rotaract Club of Timog, Philippines, for "Kalinisan Para Sa Kalusugan (Health Through Cleanliness): A Clean Hands Campaign" teaching disease prevention by hand washing through lecture, music, video, and other media and providing liquid soap to almost 1200 children at two public schools in Quezon City, Philippines.
- Europe Districts: (tie) Rotaract Club of Istanbul, Turkey, for "Healthy Water in Orhaniye," organizing and funding the construction of a new municipal water system providing clean water to the 250 residents of Orhaniye, Turkey and the Rotaract Club of Diyarbakir, Turkey, for "Just a Smile is Enough for Us" providing free dental exams and oral health care education and products to 7,000 children at seven primary schools in Diyarbakir, Turkey.
- South Asia Districts: Rotaract Club of Bangalore Jayanagar, India, for "Educating Impoverished Children" providing computer-assisted learning software and instruction, library books, and cultural opportunities to 750 underprivileged children at two government primary schools in Bangalore, India.
- Latin America Districts: Rotaract Club of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for "Ayudanos a Educar (Help Us Educate)" providing educational materials to over 400 schoolchildren in seven impoverished rural villages in Honduras.
- United States, Canada, and Caribbean Districts: Rotaract Club of Salt Lake City, USA, for "Concert Quench" raising funds for the construction of 51 clean water wells serving the rural inhabitants of Kravanh District, Cambodia.