Once You Learn to Read, You Will Be Forever Free
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Once You Learn to Read, You Will Be Forever Free

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July 7, 2015

by Cindy Eggert Johnson, Emerging Reader Volunteer
Sweet Pea Cinema

When I was a kid, I loved books. I can still remember the thrill of reading stories such as “Black Stallion,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Man o’ War.” As a child, I was captivated by the great sea adventures and races of “Black Stallion.” I can still remember how Laura Ingalls Wilder was thrilled to receive the gift of white sugar at Christmastime in order to make special treats. These stories hooked me for life on how fun reading can be and how it can transport you to places you’ve never heard of.

Last year when I discovered the Emerging Readers Program at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, I knew I needed to be a part of it. I volunteered to get books for Thomas, a third-grader in Milwaukee Public Schools. Not only did I have the pleasure of giving my new reading buddy new books, but I also treated myself to three great outings at Half Price Books. I loved scouring the shelves for a story for Thomas, hoping the array of choices would be a fun adventure for him. I also included a few fun toys — rewards for his reading efforts — and a handwritten note, explaining how much fun reading can be.

This year, I attended a fantastic week-long conference on video production for my company Sweet Pea Cinema, and one of the big takeaways was finding time to do a couple of “passion projects” each year. I couldn’t think of a better program to support with a video than United Way’s Emerging Readers program.

We were able to film the final book drop-off of the year for kids at United Community Center.  Watching the children open their packages was a great! Special thanks to the staff at United Way, the United Way Emerging Leaders who contributed to the video and staff at UCC for letting us film the students.  Developing this PSA was truly a labor of love and I hope it inspires others to be part of this great program!

Check out the PSA

Sign-up to be part of the Emerging Readers Program.


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