Summer 2021 Reading Program with Reading is Fundamental

With so many distractions in today’s society in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic social injustices we’ve been experiencing, it is simply tough for kids to enjoy being kids. With students being homeschooled over the past year, the KBK Foundation’s supportive services team made it a priority to provide our residents and the children in our communities with needed resources like lunch, healthy snacks, fresh produce, hot meals, cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and much more. It has always been a part of our Foundation’s mission to focus on Education and Empowerment of our residents and the children of our communities. Many extracurricular educational initiatives were cancelled over the year which made it harder for the children of our communities to get involved.

This Summer (2021), Irene Sparks, KBK Foundation Community Relations Officer, partnered with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) to host a reading program for students of Garfield Commons, owned by KBK Enterprises. “Reading expands your imagination and builds your communication skills. One thing our Foundation focuses on is making sure wherever our presence, we strive to be a good neighbor, sharing the concerns of our communities and dedicating our capabilities, resources and people to creating a better future,” said Sparks.  

Children enjoyed receiving new books each week from RIF and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh while earning weekly prizes for hitting their reading goals. For every 50 books read, students got to select from an assortment of toys and education items each week! The first person to read 200 books by August 6th was declared the winner. The winner this year was a bright young woman in the second grade who already is reading three grade levels ahead. Irene and RIF were amazed by her passion for reading and had a chance to speak with her mother. “My daughter loves to read; it amazes me, and it will all pay off when she reaches her dream of becoming a doctor,” said her mother.  

“I Am” Daily Affirmation: 

Another method used to connect with the children was daily “I Am” affirmations to instill confidence and self-awareness. On their first day of the reading program Irene noticed the students had some challenges with their confidence and self-identity. “It is very important for children to have an identity,” said Irene. In some cases, children are not exposed to experiences that are deemed as unconventional for their community and backgrounds. On the other hand, lack of representation can be a huge factor in children lacking confidence and self-identity. Lately, representation has been in the forefront in the film and media industry from movies like “Black Panther,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Superwoman,” making sure  representations of the world presented through films and media are truthful and properly demonstrated. For this activity children were given instructions every day before reading to create and share a positive affirmation about themselves. “Week by week the affirmations improved, it started off a little rocky with a lot of second guessing, but around week three they were able to quickly think of an abundant of positive words to say about themselves and were proud to share it to the rest of the group. That was truly a peak moment of the entire program,” said Irene.  

KBK Foundation aims to ensure all community members, from children to seniors, are provided with resources and opportunities to build a successful future. Education and empowerment are particularly important to us, and we believe this is a key to achieving success.

Special Thanks to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for your partnership and donations!