United Way of Bedford County is again seeking volunteers for the "Raise Your Hand Tennessee" program, which places volunteers in local schools for an hour a week to help children with reading.
Volunteers can work one-on-one with a child, or they can work with small or large groups, depending on the preference they express when signing up for the program. The weekly appointment can be set up to fit the volunteer's schedule. All participants must agree to a background check.
A total of 10 adult volunteers and 12 youth volunteers participated in the program during the 2013-14 school year, and United Way of Bedford County executive director Dawn Holley is hoping for that many or more this year; she already has 13 teenagers signed up so far through the National Honor Society at Shelbyville Central High School, and welcomes other youth to participate.
The exact way in which a volunteer is used may vary from situation to situation. A volunteer who is willing to work with small groups, for example, might find himself or herself playing an educational game with one group of children, or helping them as they read a story aloud and fill out a comprehension worksheet about it.
Studies have confirmed the educational benefit to children of receiving one-on-one attention or simply of being read to by an adult. Local educators who were surveyed by Holley following the 2012-13 school year reported specific gains by students who received one-on-one attention from volunteers.
"If we can encourage students to read, that's going to help their educational progress, and eventually show itself in graduation rates," said Holley.
The program is a statewide initiative of United Ways of Tennessee.
Holley generally waits until after the Celebration break, as local schools settle into a normal routine, to begin calling principals and setting up times and locations for volunteers.
For more information about the program, call Holley at 684-6685.