Over 80 volunteers from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department spend every Tuesday at a local elementary school reading books with students.
The weekly reading sessions are part of the “Lead to Read” program, which is composed of 1,100 volunteers in the Kansas City area reading one-on-one with 1st through 3rd graders in an effort to improve literacy.
“It’s really a big relationship builder and that’s what these kids truly value,” said Pauly Hart, Lead to Read Executive Director.
“Our readers come in and they read with the same student each week. The kids come to love the volunteers. The volunteers love the kids. It’s really quite magical,” Hart added.
Last year, less than a dozen people from the police department volunteered to participate, but this year the number grew to more than 80 volunteers. Hart said the students are often excited when they first realize they get to read with the police officers and by the end of the day, they see the officers in a different light.
“They get down on a bing bag chair, they sit at a kids desk, and they just become real people,” Hart said of the volunteers from the police department. “We’re truly, I think, helping develop a good relationship between our urban youth and our law enforcement community.”
Deloris Brown, the principal at Phillips at Attucks Elementary School, agrees.
“Our boys and girls have an opportunity to see police officers in a very different light,” Brown said. “They’re seeing them come into our schools on a social occasion to read with them.”
[ Fox 4 ]