Guaranteed fun: Volunteering to read to kids
The old adage Reading is Fundamental speaks to the critical importance of the mastery of a skill most of us take for granted. Many children, especially those in underprivileged households, struggle mightily with comprehension of the written word.
Recent research suggests that adult volunteers could be pivotal in boosting a child’s reading proficiency. Cheers to all those adults who volunteer their time simply to read to young children.
Just this week, Sheriff-elect Rick Wells read to the Happy Cubs students at Blake Medical Center as part of a new program from the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County. This is the first year of the ELC’s Deputy Friendly’s Book Club, a doubly brilliant program that puts law enforcement in a positive light as a role model and friend, not the bad guy.
Wells read to 4-year-olds yet to learn to read. But hopefully they learned a valuable lesson while enjoying Wells’ reading. He emphasized the importance of reading every day. “Reading gives you knowledge and reading helps you learn,” he told the tots.
Too many children come from families where reading is just not of interest, thus handicapping their learning.
Want to volunteer and join the fun of watching excited small faces? The United Way of Manatee County seeks adults for its ReadingPals Initiative in several public schools. There’s always a need. Call the organization at its Bradenton headquarters, at 941-748-1313, or its Lakewood Ranch office, at 941-748-1313.
United Way is one of the key players in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, designed to reach the youngest students, instill a joy of reading and ensure those kids are prepared for the third grade. Children must be able to read competently by the end of third grade or by age 9, or they will fall behind their classmates and continue to underachieve through school and life, research shows.
Cheers to Wells and every other reading volunteer.
Wanted: More vigilant boaters to spare manatees
Jeers to the careless and even reckless boaters who hit manatees and kill one of Florida’s iconic symbols. Early this month, boaters set an appalling record by surpassing the old kill mark of 97 manatees in 2009.
A federal study put the maximum number of annual boat kills that manatees could endure without risking extinction a possibility — at 12. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed downlisting the manatee’s status from endangered to threatened, a change that boaters and developers have been seeking since 1999 in order to secure favorable regulations. But the agency’s methodology to support this action is too flawed.
The state bears the responsibility of improving manatee protections — which does not mean expanding the number of protection and slow-speed zones. With all the technology available today, the state should take advantage of that to best inform the boating public about the locations of those zones. Responsible boaters could then take the proper precautions. Plus, the state is at work improving waterway signage.
While the manatee population is growing to record levels, more boats are out on the waters thanks to a rebounding economy. Florida’s population boom and more waterfront development will increase the threat to the sea cow.
Cold snaps and toxic red algae blooms are far greater threats, with both striking in 2013. Adding the 73 boat kills, that year’s total manatee death count set a record at 830, more than double the total most years since 1996.
A downlisting is premature. Cheers to the conscientious and cautious boaters.
Quote of the week
“It’s more about saving Visit Florida than about transparency. The hypocrisy is amazing. ... With the collusion of his general counsel, he fired (FDLE Commissioner) Gerald Bailey in violation of the Sunshine Law. I know it’s cynical, but I think he is saying; ‘Legislature, you can’t get rid of Visit Florida because I’m making them transparent.’”
— Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, commenting after Gov. Rick Scott ordered Visit Florida to make its operations more transparent in the wake of the secret Pitbull contract with the agency.