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Monday, September 28, 2020 
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Exciting New QuickStart Initiative . . . Our Response to COVID-19

Racquets for Reading!!!

Want to be a great adult?

Play tennis! Read books! Eat healthy! Have FUN!!!

Be a QuickStart kid!

Even though COVID-19 derailed our initial plans for the 2020/2021 school year, we can still help young kids through these tough times. We can't teach them tennis in person right now, but we can still promote healthy eating, early childhood literacy and school readiness. Tennis players STEP UP for their community to help out in any way they can. That's why we created Racquets for Reading!!! for preschoolers and kindergartners in Albemarle County Public Schools.

Here's what we have planned . . .

** 222 preschoolers who participate in the free Pre-K programs for disadvantaged and at-risk four-year-olds will receive copies of Little Joe Chickapig books that were generously donated by the author, Brian Calhoun. They will also receive pajamas and books from the Pajama Program. As funding permits, QCV will give these kids six Scholastic Book Club books over six months. QCV will also give them mini rubber ducks reading books and banana-scented bookmarks. Geisha Goodman, Preschool Teacher at Stone-Robinson Elementary and QCV Board member, will select the Scholastic books to be purchased, develop lesson plans for the books and coordinate distribution of books to kids in 13 classrooms in seven schools.

In addition to books, QVC will provide the Pre-K kids with Go Bananas for QuickStart! stickers, water bottles, bracelets, posters and nutrition cards, as well as mini beach balls (to work on hand-eye coordination and reaction time), sunglasses and anything else we can find that will be FUN and help them develop a love of reading and tennis.  

** This fall, kindergartners at the six Title I (disadvantaged percentages of 41% to 71%) elementary schools in Albemarle County will receive 10 books from the Soho Center as part of Soho's continuing Read Every Day! (RED!) project.  Starting in January 2021, 855 kindergartners at the six Title I schools and four additional elementary schools, with disadvantaged percentages of 23% to 32%, will receive six Scholastic books, Go Bananas! materials and other giveaways from QCV.

As soon as books for a school are 50% funded, we will identify a Racquets for Reading!!! coordinator at that school to work with the kindergarten teachers to evaluate, purchase and distribute the books and Go Bananas! giveaways. Thanks to The Wawa Foundation, we have reached 50% funding at Greer Elementary.

The UVA Women's Tennis Team has volunteered to help out. They will be making videos of the players reading the books we give to the kids and will visit the kids at school when the schools reopen. Coach Sara O'Leary is a big fan of kid-sized tennis and so are her players.

Here's why we're doing what we're doing . . .

QCV's Racquets for Reading!!! initiative will help mitigate the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on learning for young kids, using tennis as a FUN platform and featuring accomplished tennis players as role models. We will address physical inactivity, childhood obesity and early childhood literacy issues. These problem affect young kids, especially disadvantaged and at-risk preschoolers and kindergartners. We can help young kids develop a love of tennis, reading and healthy eating early in life.

Research indicates children who don’t read at grade level by the end of kindergarten probably will not read at grade level at the end of third grade. Kids who don’t read at grade level by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school entirely. Trying to develop reading skills in virtual preschool and kindergarten during a pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for teachers, parents and kids.

QCV has handed out "WHY do tennis players like to read?" Go Bananas! cards and promoted reading since 2014, but we saw the need to do more and reach kids whose success in life can ultimately depend on how literate they are before they start first grade. Last school year (before COVID-19) we made pilot literacy grants to three preschool classrooms. The kids loved the books and the teachers loved the idea of the kids having books to take home and read with family members. In disadvantaged areas, the average of books in the home is one age-appropriate book for every 300 kids. We had already planned to expand the preschool grants this school year and add a pilot kindergarten version at one school. Then came COVID-19.

On the bright side, we can still get Go Bananas! materials and books into kids' hands, and thanks to the innovative Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment tool developed by the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, we have a ready made way to measure progress as kids receive and read their books. We like to keep score. Physical activity. Nutritional literacy. Reading skills. Game. Set. Match.

Racquets for Reading!!! is being supported by . . .



 

                 

        


If you would like to contribute to Racquets for Reading!!!, please email us at: quickstartcentral@comcast.net.

The more books, the merrier these kids will get to be!



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