We know the word smart relates to intelligence and abilities, but where do those skills come from? Are you born being smart or does your environment and education have something to do with it?
Genes and heredity determine a certain amount of our fate, but education and environment factor into our development, which is why reading matters. In Oregon, SMART stands for Start Making A Reader Today, which is a volunteer program that reaches thousands of children each year. The founders of the SMART nonprofit organization believe that reading is foundational and that every child should be able to read and with help, they can.
SMART started in 1992, coordinating children who need help with reading with adult volunteers for weekly one-on-one reading lessons. Many of the volunteers are retirees or seniors who make themselves available in their local communities to read to students and connect them with books to borrow or keep.
On the SMART website they highlight volunteers, like Gwynn Sullivan who has been a volunteer reader for 15 years and has many memories of the children she has met and inspired and the stories they told her that touched her life as well. They estimate they have helped more than 180,000 students, spent more than 3.5 million hours in reading sessions and given more than 2 million books away to students.
Do you know someone who volunteers in schools or with children to help instill the love of books and learning? Nominate them for next week’s AmericanTown’s Heroes.