By Stephanie Jones
This month we are pleased to devote the Social Action Collection to a home-grown program, Play Partners.
Play Partners fosters early childhood literacy development by providing family daycare providers with supplementary support and educational materials. Skilled volunteers— the Play Partners—visit family daycare providers on a weekly basis to introduce educational programming and provide reading materials to children. Many providers offer daycare to low-income children who studies have shown demonstrate lower vocabulary and fall behind grade level in reading. By introducing an age-appropriate curriculum in a variety of child care settings, Play Partners aims to demonstrate higher vocabulary and among its target group of three and four year-olds. Furthermore, Play Partners donates books to children and their families thereby helping them build a home library they otherwise may not afford.
TJMC is proud to count Play Partners among its distinguished home-grown social action programs. It was founded in 1997 by Helen Reynolds, wife of TJMJ congregant Al Reynolds, and expanded to include a number of long-time church members as volunteers and as donors. Several of these volunteers are enthused about the value Play Partners has in building literacy skills at an early age; particularly among children who were behind in basic reading skills just prior to Kindergarten.
Under the auspices of ReadyKids—a larger local organization—Play Partners makes a meaningful impact on the lives of children throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County. It operates in both family-based providers and in schools. As its own separate program, it operates on a minimal budget and relies on volunteers to implement the curriculum. Whatever you give on Sunday July 17, therefore, will significantly impact their ability to purchase reading materials and implement valuable early educational programming in our community.