The Power of Reading & Words to Unite Us Across Continents

Our guest blog today comes from a longtime (and extraordinary) WRADvocate, Colby Sharp. Many months ago Colby approached us with an idea that would connect schools in Michigan with our LitClubs in Kibera, Kenya. As usual, it was a thoughtful, kind and beautiful idea. Read on to learn more!

Being selected the chair of the Michigan Reading Associations International Project Committee was a great honor. Our team, Suzanne Gibbs, Brian Wyzlic, and Niki Barnes, has had a lot of fun thinking of our project and how we can get our kids involved.

We have chosen to support a LitWorld group in Kibera, Kenya. Our group decided to support a group through LitWorld because we wanted our work to support something that was already up and running, we wanted it to be something that seemed real to our students, and we wanted our project to be able to support something that will continue long after our time serving on the Michigan Reading Associations International Project Committee.

Since we don’t have a ton of money ($250 from the Michigan Reading Association and the money our students raise), we knew that we couldn’t start something ourselves. We figured that the money we have could really help something that was already up and running get better. When we read the information below, provided by LitWorld, we knew that the Kibera Lit Club was the perfect group for us to support.

The clubs in Kibera were started out of a conversation with a local teacher there, Rose and our founder and CEO Pam Allyn. Pam asked Rose what her dream is for her students and Rose replied, “I wish I could keep my girls in school because they all drop out eventually, and so we created the Kibera LitClub. Since then, through our partnership with The Children of Kibera Foundation, our LitClub program has expanded to include over 100 girls and boys ages 9-14 in 6 clubs. They meet weekly and all the original girls in the club have gone on to secondary school, something that is particularly difficult in Kenya due to the cost of school fees and uniforms. All the clubs are led by LitClub Leaders and LitWorld's Regional Coordinators, members from the community who have dedicated their lives to improving the life outcomes of the children of Kibera.”  -LitWorld

For me, supporting charities at an international level can feel a little abstract. Our team wanted this project to be a way for our students’ eyes to be opened to the outside world. We wanted our kids to be able to see the world in a whole new way. LitWorld is helping us make this project eye-opening to our students by allowing them to Skype with the students they will be supporting. It is one thing to raise money to send books across the ocean. It is a whole different thing when the kids raising the money get a chance to meet the kids getting the books.

Meet the team:

Suzanne Gibbs, Warner Elementary School

Kindergarten through fifth grade students at Suzanne’s school will be collecting coins and cans (we have a 10 cent can deposit in Michigan) to support the students in Kibera.
Connect with Susan on Twitter, follow @Suz_Gibbs

Niki Barnes, Dorr Elementary School

Kindergarden through fourth grade grade students at Niki’s school will be raising money by having a hat day where students bring in change to wear their hat for the day. All the change will go towards supporting the lit club in Kibera, Kenya.
Connect with Niki on Twitter, follow @daydreamreader

Brian Wyzlic, Hale Area Schools

Sixth through twelth grade students at Brian’s school will be collecting loose change, collecting soda cans, and possibly having a hat day/pajama day to support this project.
Connect with Brian on Twitter, follow @brianwyzlic

Colby Sharp, Parma Elementary School

KKindergarten through fifth grade students at Parma Elementary will hold a coin drive to support the students in Kibera, Kenya.
Connect with Colby on Twitter, follow @colbysharp