Help Staten Island children learn to read

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Winter blues got you down? Get up and out of the house and be a reading volunteer!

The Staten Island Mental Health Society is once again offering free training for its School Reading Volunteer Program, and you are invited to become a member of this unique volunteer corps that helps students in grades one through five learn to read.

Free training for new reading volunteers will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 26 and Thursday, Jan. 28, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day, at SIMHS headquarters, 669 Castleton Ave., Building A. The training course will be repeated on Tuesday, Feb. 2 and Thursday, Feb. 4, same time and location. New volunteers are required to attend either of the two-day sessions.

The program is now in its 56th year of service. Last year, the program’s 200 volunteer tutors gave more than 10,325 hours of service assisting 623 children in 30 Island public elementary schools.

Volunteers are trained by a reading teacher, who introduces them to a variety of interactive techniques, including reading together, telling stories, playing educational games, solving puzzles, discussing books of special interest, and writing prose and poetry, to help children learn the basics and experience the joy of reading.

After training, each volunteer selects a participating school, where he or she will spend about four hours per week tutoring youngsters with reading problems. Because most of the tutoring sessions are one-to-one, reading volunteers often form strong bonds of friendship and trust with the children.

Reading volunteers must be high school graduates at least 18 years old. They should be in good health, be able to make a commitment to tutor for the entire school term, and should have patience and concern for children.

SIMHS President/CEO Fern A. Zagor said, “We cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of this program. Hundreds of children are waiting for you to help them open their books and open their minds. It is essential to provide reading help to every child who needs it. The more you give to these children, the more satisfaction you will receive, and the children will remember you for a lifetime.”

For more information on the Staten Island School Reading Volunteer Program, or to register for training, call (718) 442–2225, ext. 304, e-mail mstriffolino@simhs.org. or visit www.simhs.org.