Literacy Efforts in West Philadelphia

While the world has many issues going on, one huge component is the trouble with literacy- or, rather, the lack of literacy. Literacy rates are extremely low, especially in places of severe poverty. Without reading and writing skills, it is impossible for those in desperate situation to be able to break out of them. In one corner in West Philadelphia, there’s an elementary school desperate to make a change. With the support of several groups in the neighborhood, Lea Elementary is combatting literacy and promoting reading as much as they can. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the honor of being able to join in with their efforts to help the school.

The first event that I was able to participate in was a book giving with the first grade at Lea Elementary. Myself, along with several other volunteers, brought over donated books to the classrooms in the school, and sat with kids as they chose a few to take home with them. We were able to have conversations about the stories, help the kids choose books that were on reading level, and maybe most importantly we were able to see the genuine joy these students had for reading. Every single kid was excited and enthusiastic about the idea of being able to take home a few books, and seeing the delight on their faces was a great experience.

The next event that I participated in was a dinner to honor the tutors that volunteer at Lea every week, working on their time off to help these kids grow and learn at a pace that works for them. It was such a joy to get to talk to these tutors, hear their stories, and get to know them more. We also worked together on figuring out a book order for all of the students in the tutoring program. A few different sources in the neighborhood have donated money that has made it possible to fund these tutoring functions, and we are trying to put together a bundle of books for the kids to take with them over the summer. Working with the tutors, we were able to come up with some great options for all the kids.

It’s really been such a great experience working with the students and faculty at Lea Elementary. This school has come so far in just the few short years that I’ve been in the neighborhood, I cannot wait to see where it’ll go next.