This year GTR implemented a new program to help stop the summer slide by infusing children’s camps with literacy opportunities through their EXPAND Summer Literacy Program. Kim Myers, director of Get Troup Reading learned of a similar program the Read Charlotte Foundation sponsors in North Carolina. Myers thought parts of that program could be successful in Troup County. Myers reached out to camps across the county and asked directors if they would be willing to spend 20 to 30 minutes of their camp day on literacy. If they agreed, then GTR would supply all the materials and would train the staff on strategies to push in daily literacy skills. Troup County School System graciously provided the funds for the materials through the Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading Grant.
The Boys and Girls Club, Communities in Schools, Grigg’s Recreation Center and Camp Viola all agreed to take part in the program. Each center was visited and presented a literacy cart full of books, puzzles, literacy games, journals, art and writing supplies. Training was provided to the staff on how to use the materials along with information on the summer reading program for Memorial Library, Malcolm Mitchell’s Virtual Read Camp, and information from Cox Campus to enrich daily interaction with the children. With EXPAND, approximately 272 students were impacted though the program. At Communities in Schools the students logged 26 hours of time spent on literacy activities during the 4-week camp. Beverly McNair of the Boys and Girls Club said, ” The games and puzzles were a big hit. I was surprised to learn that so many kids had never put a puzzle together. Some kids missed out on games and puzzles due to being away from school last year and not having these things at home. We look forward to using the materials all year during our after-school Power Hour.”
TCSS was also able to provide funding to Gail Gordon, of Success by Six to offer a similar program to childcare centers called Summer Play on Wheels. Gordon was able to work directly with four local childcare centers to provide age-appropriate literacy materials for the childcare directors to use over the summer. Both programs are an example of community partners working together with the school system to meet the needs of students after school hours. The plan is to continue this partnership with afterschool programs as well as next summer. Myers said, “The success of these programs will only grow next summer when the pandemic is under control and more children will be participating in programs outside of school.