Philadelphia, July 28, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter launched the Playstreet Book Club, a pilot program that aims to help address summer reading loss among children who receive USDA-funded free summer meals. The Book Club operates at select locations by providing children with five free, take-home books. The Playstreet Book Club, which is administered by Fun Safe Philly Summer in partnership with Foster Grandparents, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Nutritional Development Services, and Mayor’s Office staff and volunteers, also offers literacy assessments and activities led by Foster Grandparents, a Senior Corps program of the Corporation for National & Community Service. In total, the Playstreet Book Club has provided approximately 3,000 books to more than 600 children at 16 meal sites across the city.
“We know that children, particularly low-income children, can lose up to two months of reading skills during the summer, putting them behind before the new school year begins. By providing children with free books to read during the summer, we hope to instill a lifelong love of reading, help them to build their own libraries at home and give them the skills they to be successful in the classroom,” said Mayor Nutter. “I would like to thank all of our sponsors, particularly the S. Albert Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia and Team First Book Philadelphia, for their assistance in supporting this program. We know that children need access to nutritious meals, enriching activities and supportive adults all year long in order to reach their full potential. The Playstreet Book Club connects children to all three of these elements at one location during the summer months.”
As part of the Playstreet Book Club program, each participating child’s reading level is assessed by a Foster Grandparent through the San Diego Quick Assessment of Reading Ability. Each child is then given five free, take-home books at the appropriate reading level. For the following four weeks, Foster Grandparents visit the meal site to engage in literacy activities with the children as well as to provide assistance as they read their new books. At the end of five weeks, Foster Grandparents will administer an assessment to gauge reading progress.
“There is nothing quite like the joy of a brand new book shared with a caring adult who can help explore the story. This program gives participating Philadelphia youth the opportunity for reading activities with Foster Grandparents at their outdoor meal site, helping sustain the excitement of reading all summer long,” said Maia Jachimowicz, Director of Policy. “We created the Playstreet Book Club program to prevent ‘summer slide’ in literacy levels for Philadelphia youth, while at the same time increasing the appeal of USDA-funded summer meal sites.”
Carolyn Ashburn, Chair of Team First Book Philadelphia, said, “Our pilot project with the Mayor’s office this summer is one of the most rewarding and exciting endeavors we’ve ever undertaken; we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Fun Safe Philly Summer. The Mayor’s team has worked tirelessly to choose the best, most appropriate books in each age level for the kids and to engage the Foster Grandparents to help spread the joy of reading. We know that books can change lives. We believe that this summer, books are changing lives right here, right now. This is possible thanks to the generosity of our individual donors, the S. Albert Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, and the Mayor’s Innovation Fund.”
Chief Service Officer Catie C. Wolfgang added, “We are delighted that the Foster Grandparent Program could participate in this exciting pilot program to spread the love of reading to more young people in Philadelphia. Foster Grandparents are dedicated public servants who work throughout the city as role models, mentors and coaches. Their participation further enhances this literacy work serving children in Philadelphia.”
There are more than 500 outdoor meal sites throughout Philadelphia serving USDA-funded meals to children all summer long. All youth 18 and under, as well as students with disabilities 19 and older who are enrolled in a school program, are eligible to receive free summer meals. Families can call the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger at 1-855-252-6325, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877, or visit http://www.phillysummermeals.org to find locations for free summer meals in their community.
Mayor Nutter started the Fun Safe Philly Summer initiative in 2012 in an effort to provide young people in Philadelphia with access to summer opportunities, summer meals and summer employment. In addition to the Playstreet Book Club, Fun Safe Philly Summer hosts “Pop Up” events throughout the summer to provide young people with access to fun, healthy activities.
The remaining 2015 Fun Safe Philly Summer “Pop Up” events include:
- Skateboard Skills & Tricks: No experience necessary! Let’s shred.
July 29, 5-8pm, Grays Ferry Crescent Skatepark (3600 Grays Ferry Ave)
- Ice Skating: Beat the heat and enjoy a night at the ice rink!
August 5, 5-8pm, Scanlon Ice Rink (1099 E Venango St)
- Pump & Jump: Bring your friends and race around the bicycle Pumptrack!
August 12, 5-8pm, Philly Pumptrack (Parkside Avenue near 53rd St)
- Dance Party: Join the STAMP Program for a museum dance party in Old City.
August 14. Visit www.phillystamppass.org closer to the date for more details.
Fun Safe Philly Summer is also encouraging Philadelphians 18 and younger to read this summer through a social media campaign. Young readers who tweet or post to Facebook or Instagram about a book they have finished reading, about an interesting chapter in a book or about something new that they have learned from reading will be entered into a raffle to win prizes. Tweets and posts should be @PhillySummer or use the #PlaystreetBookClub.