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United WE READ Combats Summer Reading Slide, Kicks Off 4th Annual Summer Book Club

United WE READ, a community impact initiative of the United Way of Greater Kingsport, hosted an Olympic-themed Field Day on June 7th, 2016 at the Riverview Splashpad in V.O. Dobbins park to kick-off their Fourth Annual Summer Book Club. Over 680 kindergarten through third graders registered to participate in the book club, which lasts until July 15th. The book club is intended to counter summer learning loss that can erase literacy gains made during the school year. Each student received a packet of an age-appropriate, Olympic-themed book, activities, worksheets, a calendar of trivia to track their daily reading, and incentives to earn additional books—all provided through United WE READ’s After School and Summer Team.

“United WE READ was elated to introduce the excitement of the summer Olympics to a new group of kids,” said Emily Merritt, United WE READ Manager. “We are working to combat the dreaded ‘Summer Slide’ that happens when kids are not engaged in reading throughout the summer months. In hosting the kick-off and the book club, the students will take that excitement from receiving their brand-new books and participating in today’s activities back to their homes and summer camps to read and learn more in the following weeks.”  Merritt also mentioned that the program leaders received additional materials and books to aid in lesson and activity planning around the Olympic theme.


At the event on Tuesday, over 50 volunteers came together to direct hundreds of children in their own Olympic games. Throughout the volunteer-built course, at stations marked with flags from countries around the world, these children could be seen completing the long jump, running the 50-yard dash, making crafts, having faces painted, learning weight-lifting techniques, or even throwing the “javelin” through a giant 3-D Olympic rings structure—all made of foam pool noodles, of course.


The United Way of Greater Kingsport thanks the United WE READ After School and Summer Team for planning and hosting the book club and supporting a literacy-rich community. Members include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Tri-Cities, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Boy Scouts of America, Sequoyah Council, Girls Inc. of Kingsport, Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, Inc., Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Lee Family Learning Center, Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and the YWCA of Bristol.


United WE READ also thanks Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Culligan Tri-Cities, Matt Wells of Freddy's Frozen Custard in Kingsport, Frontier Industries, H.O.P.E. Tri-Cities, Wesley Idlette of Andrew Johnson Elementary, Just Jump Trampoline Park, UT Extension—Sullivan County, and our many volunteers for their donations of time and resources to make the book club and event possible.