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BWHer Gwen Pino and her second-grade reading buddy, Tristan
Applause rang from the Tobin K-8 School auditorium late last month as students and their reading buddies, including several volunteers from BWH, celebrated the conclusion of the year-long lunchtime reading program called "Read to a Child."
"At Read to a Child, we work with the goal of inspiring kids to love reading," said Olivia Mathews, CEO of the program, during the celebration. About 40 BWH volunteers have done just that during weekly lunchtime reading sessions with their Tobin School students.
Volunteers read one-on-one with their students, provide academic help and become an emotional and social support system. BWHer Gwen Pino, a project specialist for Partners Information Systems, says she looks forward to returning to the Tobin as a mentor for her third year next fall.
"It has a huge impact on the children because they get to see that many adults-in addition to their teachers and parents-believe reading is really important," Pino said. "I love doing this work because the program gives you the opportunity to step away for an afternoon, help a child and return to work feeling refreshed."
The individual attention that students receive through the program has positively influenced their achievement in school. Of those students participating in the program, Tobin Principal Efrain Toledano says the school has seen a 16 percent decrease in the number of students in the failing zone during the past school year.
Starting with only 13 children in 2002, the Read to a Child program has grown into an organization that pairs more than 1,000 elementary school students with an individual mentor in five cities across the country. Through the Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE), BWH and the Tobin have been joined in a community partnership for more than 20 years, but this year marks the third year that BWH has been involved with Read to a Child.
"Literacy in the early years is correlated with higher academic achievement and improved health outcomes over the lifecourse," said Pamela Audeh, elementary and middle school program manager at the CCHHE.
During the celebration, many volunteers gave their students a parting gift for the summer: a new book, symbolizing the relationship the pairs have built over the course of the year and serving as motivation for the students to keep reading through the summer months.
Interested in volunteering for Read to a Child this fall? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.