COLUMBIA, S.C. - The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has awarded the Columbia Fireflies Reading Program - an incentive-based literacy initiative presented by Palmetto Health Children's Hospital - a certificate of commendation as an outstanding program deserving of recognition at the national level.
The Reading Program was created to encourage and enhance literacy among the youth of the Midlands. The program is completely free to students and educators. During the academic year, the program is run through schools, and, during the summer months, the program continues through local libraries. Students are required to reach goals set by educators while they "Read Around the Bases," creating a customizable incentive-based program to encourage children to read. Each student's progress is tracked, and once they make it to "Home Plate" (complete the program), students are rewarded with a complimentary ticket to a Fireflies game, a voucher for a free meal, a special gift from the Fireflies and a free ticket to EdVenture Children's Museum.
"The Columbia Fireflies are proud to have been honored with this formal commendation for our efforts to enhance literacy through our Reading Program," said Fireflies team President John Katz. "Our partnership with Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has been instrumental in our ability to grow so rapidly and to impact the lives of so many children."
In just the second year of the program, the Fireflies reached over 65,000 students from 153 schools during the spring session, and nearly 25,000 more this summer through 4 county libraries, the YMCA and other child-centric organizations.
Kyle Williamson, the Fireflies Reading Program Manager, works closely with educators and librarians to provide children across the Midlands with incentives to hit their reading goals, develop a love for reading and for the use of information technologies. After summer break, the Reading Program had been implemented across the region in Richland, Lexington, Oconee, Newberry, Fairfield, Lancaster, Kershaw, Florence, Williamsburg, Calhoun, Sumter, Orangeburg, Beaufort, and Barnwell Counties.
"Palmetto Health Children's Hospital firmly believes in the importance of literacy. Reading is a strong component of children's ability to grow and understand the world around them. Forming a partnership with the Fireflies reading program is another way of being an advocate for children and their overall well-being that helps our entire community," said Diane Bagnal-Moody, administrative director of Children's Hospital.
Delegates of the AASL Affiliate Assembly nominate specific programs across the country, and the South Carolina Association of School Librarians delegate, Cindy Symonds, brought the Fireflies' efforts to the national stage.
The Fireflies kicked off the program at the local schools and libraries with Mason, the team's mascot, making an appearance to get the children excited about reading. Fireflies players joined in after the season began and would head out in their uniforms and read with students at various schools.
The mission of AASL is to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning. Audrey Church, president of AASL, explained that this group works to ensure that all members of the school library field collaborate to connect learners with ideas and information to prepare students for life-long learning and informed decision-making.
Enrollment for the 2018 Fireflies Reading Program begins on Friday, October 27th at 9am. Visit ColumbiaFireflies.com for more details.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.