UWNCC goes wild for reading

OBSERVER Photos by Nicole Gugino At left:: United Way of Northern Chautauqua County Executive Director Deb Tederous reads “Where the Wild Things Are” to Head-Start Pre-K students. Above: Dunkirk School 3 students choose books as part of the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County’s Month of Literacy book giveaway.


OBSERVER City Editor

In reading “Where the Wild Things Are” and giving books to students, the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County found children in Dunkirk are wild for reading.

April marks Month of the Young Child and for several years United Way of Northern Chautauqua County has made early-grade literacy a focus.

“During the first three years we handed out Literacy Kits to Head-Start and Pre-K during Month of the Young Child which happens in April. In June we were giving out books to help combat ‘Summer Slide’ to the Kindergarten through 3rd grade during June for our Day of Caring,” UWNCC Executive Director Deb Tederous explained.

It was a natural transition to combine the two for a Month of Literacy. So, in a month-long celebration of literacy, United Way staff and volunteers visited students in all of Dunkirk’s elementary schools to give away hundreds of books as well as reading to pre-K students and distributing literacy kits full of activities and a book and receiving a visit from Northern Chautauqua Catholic School students for a music filled parade with students also walking away with a book.

“This is our fourth year of bringing books to the children enrolled in COI’s Head-Start program and Dunkirk Public School’s Pre-K and Kindergarten through 3rd grade. This year we added the Pre-K Head-Start run by the Dunkirk Public School System and the one run by the Campus & Community Children’s Center,” Tederous added. “At United Way we give the students books that are theirs to take home and keep because we know that grade level reading by the end of third grade is an important part of future success for children as they move into higher grade levels.”

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, if children are reading on grade level by the end of third grade, then they will be more likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and in careers. Because of this United Way of Northern Chautauqua County has made early-grade literacy a priority.

Month of Literacy activities were funded in part by Spring It On, a 24-hour online give-a-thon held each year in March.

Since the 1950s, UWNCC has been partnering with local people and organizations to create opportunities for a better life for all Northern Chautauqua County residents. Every dollar raised by the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County stays in Chautauqua County meeting local needs and empowering the community through education, financial stability and health.