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Summer reading program aims to avoid “summer slide”

A new pilot program is trying to get books to kids over the summer who may not have access to them at home. Data shows low literacy skills can lead to a number of problems later in life including poverty, health issues and unemployment.

Janine Kozlowski is the Community Coordinator for Frontier College. She is working directly with students to improve their reading skills. Right now she is at Avondale and Mother Teresa schools where she is working with more than 40 kids. She says that Alberta Education noticed a need for this type of program in a few places.

“So this is for both Grande Prairie and Lethbridge, this pilot project. So students in Grande Prairie, the [First Nations, Metis and Inuit] population is not reaching where they want them to be. So this has kind of come in to support the school systems.”

She says she hopes she will help students feel more confident and empowered with their improved school.

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Kozlowski says it gets harder as kids get older and there is less opportunity to get students the help they might need. In the early grades, the focus is on how to read and in the later grades, it is understanding the story. She says that can leave some kids behind.

“There are no interventions after one to three. It makes sense that they put all of their eggs into the one to three and into getting those students up to the level they need. But the reality is that not every student makes it.”

She says the specialized focus of the program helps to fill a gap in the community.

As the school year is coming to a close Kozlowski says she still wants to make sure kids are reading. She says they will be out in Grande Prairie with their summer reading tent.

“The ‘summer slide’, that is just very normal and it happens. But we want to try to prevent that. To keep kids reading over the summer. To get them excited about books. To keep their brains thinking.”

Frontier College will work with local agencies like the YMCA and Cool Aid to ensure they can work with kids over the summer. They will also be at the park at St Pat’s school most Tuesday’s through July and August.

Frontier College is an agency that works in communities across Canada with the goal of improving literacy skills.

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