UH Cohort XXIV dedicates the month of March to promoting literacy
In light of recent news from Washington, DC about the Reading Is Fundamental program, and our First Lady’s participation with governors spouses from around the nation, the theme chosen by the latest UH Cohort for their community service project is a timely one.
According to Elenor Malaga-Tagaloa, the president of UH Cohort XXIV, the month of March has been chosen to implement a Service Learning project entitled, “Read and Write every day. Lead a Better Life”. Malaga-Tagaloa told Samoa News that community service is part of the Cohort program, and “in order to fulfill our community service credits for our last semester, we have... proposed a month filled with reading and writing activities. The purpose of our project is to encourage and motivate our students to read and write every day.”
To accomplish this goal, the Cohort has outlined planned activities and projects that will take place throughout the month.
Beginning today, March 3, their community service project will kick off at 5:30am with a Literacy Walk, and Cohort members will be picking up trash from Faga’alu Park to Utulei Beach Park. At Utulei, they will have a “wave to the community” with banners that display the project’s theme, reminding all to: “Read and Write every day.”
The Cohort will be giving out children’s books to the first 30 to 50 cars that acknowledge the wave. Look for the group— they will be wearing baby blue shirts with their Cohort XXIV logo.
“The main purpose of this wave is to promote literacy among our students and the community at large,” according to Mene Tauaa, Coordinator for Cohort XXIV.
Tauaa explained that this project came about “because of the concern we have with our students' test scores in reading and writing.” Research has shown that students who read and write every day definitely improve their test scores, according to Tauaa.
“We also want to encourage reading and writing in the home, as well as in our schools. Reading a book instead of fooling around on things like play station will help our children become better students.” Tauaa said.
March 8th and 15th – Thursdays
To encourage reading and writing, the Cohort has chosen to visit daycares around the island from the east side to the far west villages, to implement reading and writing activities from the program.
“We will engage the children of ages 1 – 3 in activities such as Read Aloud, puppet shows, Readers Theaters, and various other reading and writing activities,” said Malaga-Tagaloa. “We have already contacted the Child Care Division for approval and they have already shown their sincere appreciation and assistance,” she noted.
March 22 – Thursday
“Aside from serving our little children, we have also decided to serve our old folks at the Fatu O Aiga “Hope House” in Tafuna. We will be giving out books, magazines, and other reading materials that will help them enjoy the company of reading as they are resting in their rooms. Our whole group with 28 members and our coordinator will present these gifts to the Hope House. Moreover, each member will get the chance to pair up with the Hope House folks and they will read to them one of their chosen books” said the Cohort president.
March 26- 31 – Monday thru Saturday
During the last week of March, the Cohort will culminate Literacy month with visits to LBJ Hospital’s Pediatric ward. It is their goal to read to the children and donate the books to the pediatric ward when they are done.
“ A group of five members is assigned a designated day to visit the Pediatric Ward so that it won’t get crowded.” This is the best way to help them get through their illness, said Malaga-Tagaloa, who hopes to encourage the parents and caregivers to also read to the children.
According to Tauaa, the Cohort students raised funds to come up with $1,000 for books which they have already ordered and paid for. These books will be given to the Day Care Centers for Read-Aloud time, and to help the DayCare centers begin building their own libraries. The books will also be given to students in schools where the Cohort students are working.
“I would like to see people reading to their children in the home. The best students come from homes where reading is encouraged.” said Tauaa.
In addition to these projects, all members of this cohort are encouraged to invite a guest speaker from the community to do a ‘read aloud’ for their students.
“ It will be their responsibility to show the students how much they enjoy reading and writing, and show their support for increasing the love of reading in our community.” said Malaga-Tagaloa, who added, “Throughout the month of February, we raised funds to buy books from Scholastic with the help of our coordinator Mene Tauaa, and these books will be utilized carefully throughout our Literacy month. The books will be used during our Wave, Daycare project, the Hope House project, and our Pediatric project. We believe that through these projects, we will inspire and instill a love of reading and writing in the people of American Samoa.”
If you have any questions about Literacy Month, or would like to be a guest reader in a classroom for the “Read Aloud” program, please feel free to contact Elenor Malaga-Tagaloa at 733-0787 or Mene Tauaa at 731-6331.