Palmetto Elks 2449  

Dive Into Reading

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Palmetto Elks 2449 has been providing community service to children in a local (soon to be state-wide) Dive Into Reading program. The program is designed to help children in Title One schools from first through third grade raise their reading skills. Sadly, 51% of Manatee County, FL children in the third grade cannot read at the third grade level. These statistics are similar throughout the the south Florida Title One school system.

The Anna Maria Oyster Bar piloted this program after they heard the statistics above (from school employees) and realized that from birth to third grade we “Learn to Read” and from third grade onward we “Read to Learn.” Children who cannot read at grade level after third grade usually do not make it through high school. And their future is dim with regards to being a productive member of society after that.

In its third year now, the Dive Into Reading program has proven to be successful at raising the reading levels of children who participate in the program. The local school system brings children to the restaurant for breakfast with a Mentor. The mentors assist the children by reading with and to them from grade level books, then having the children read back from the same book. The program runs for one month in June. Children are tested by the school system at the end of the school year and then again at the beginning of the next school year. After attending the Dive Into Reading program the results show positive improvement, or at least no loss of reading skills, throughout the summer months. Statistically, these children would normally lose up to 3 months of reading skills during summer break.

Palmetto Elks involvement started at the Mentor level. Then in year two the Elks Lodge donated over 200 backpacks with school supplies to the attending children. This year, 2019, there will be over 400 children attending. The program is growing, and other local restaurants are now participating. Sarasota County school system has also joined the program. The need for more support is growing along with the program. Palmetto Elks Lodge has committed to providing an adequate number of backpacks for the program. The Lodge is working with other Elk Lodges in the district to expand participation.

The future is looking bright for these children. The Elks will not let them down.
Your help is needed; please volunteer to be a Mentor:

Jim Hoey
Palmetto Elks 2449