Student athletes promote literacy

Oakland University student-athletes put the reading in March. Over 100 Golden Grizzlies read to elementary students throughout March is Reading Month, according to senior softball infielder Sarah Hartley.

“Athletics gets tons of new fans from this,” Hartley wrote in an email. “While we are there all the kids are yelling ‘Go Grizzlies!’”

According to Hartley, the student-athletes pick their own visits and go from there. The structure isn’t set in stone, though. They might read to all the students or some of the students. The roles can even be reversed.

“The elementary students even read to us,” Hartley wrote.

The impact goes beyond the mere words, according to her.

“It shows the community that we do care about our youth,” Hartley wrote. “We can be great role models for these kids and show them that if you want to be a collegiate athlete or go to college, it’s possible.”

Notwithstanding the serious implications, the initiative is enjoyable.

“It is such a fun experience,” Hartley wrote. “The children love asking us questions, showing off to us and just love to spend time with us.”

There’s a highlight for her.

“My favorite memory has to be just spending time with the children and seeing how excited they get when we talk to them,” Hartley wrote. “They love asking us a million questions ranging from ‘Do you have any pets?’ to ‘What is an athlete?’”

And still the basic motive remains.

“The aim of March is Reading Month is to find new ways to motivate kids to read every single day of the year and to make reading fun,” Hartley wrote.

According to Oakland University Athletic Director Jeff Konya, the athletic department gives more than 3,000 volunteer hours per year.

“[March is Reading Month] is an activity that is at the heart of that commitment because the relationship are so valued,” Konya wrote in an email.

The campaign isn’t just compatible with Oakland University Athletics’ precept of service, according to Konya, but with the whole athletic mission.

“These kinds of activities are consistent and valued within our culture and specifically within our Ethos on Athletics,” he wrote.

From the Statement of Belief: “…promote an environment that fosters success in the classroom, in competition, and in the community….”

According to Konya, reading to elementary students sends the community a message.

“It shows that we value education and the learning process,” Konya wrote. “It also shows that we accept our responsibility as a role model and that there is a reason why student is listed first in the term student-athlete.”

And the entire process has a goal: “emphasize the importance of literacy,” according to Konya.

“Our student-athletes love working with local children in the area,” he wrote. “The interaction is tremendously positive.”

Katlynn Emaus is a freshman swimmer and participated in March is Reading Month.