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My Town: Community invited to literacy discussion featuring mayor, superintendents and lit org | Arts & Culture

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My Town: Community invited to literacy discussion featuring mayor, superintendents and lit org
My Town: Community invited to literacy discussion featuring mayor, superintendents and lit org

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- SLD Read, formerly known as the Specialized Language Development Center, will host a State of Literacy discussion and breakfast on April 30th beginning at 8 a.m.

The event will take place at The ROC, 601 First Street NW, on Grand Rapids’ west side. All community members are invited to attend to discuss the literacy in the West Michigan community as well as learn about the organization’s expansion and rebrand. SLD Read is hosting the event to increase community awareness and understanding of literacy issues within the community. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet SLD Read staff, board, donors and tutors.

Attendees will include Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, Wyoming Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reeder, SLD Read Board President, Dr. Michael Ryan and Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal.  An overview of literacy will be given followed by a community discussion on the state of literacy in West Michigan. Information will include alarming literacy statistics, solutions, SLD Read service offerings and more. Time will be allotted for questions and exclusives for local media in attendance.

The event kicks off as SLD Read is celebrating 40 years of service to West Michigan. In the past 10 years, services have expanded to better serve West Michigan communities. SLD Read now has over 100 employees. The number of students served on a one to one basis has increased by 22% and the number of people trained in professional development classes and workshops have increased by 134%. Services extend as far north as Traverse City.

“Our goal is to service over 14 counties in Michigan from St Joseph to Mecosta,” said Maura Race, SLD Read co-executive director. “For the last 40 years we have specialized in literacy development and we will continue to work together for literacy to empower all individuals to achiever their full potential.”

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Michigan ranks 40th in the U.S. in 4th-grade reading literacy. Nearly one-third of 3rd graders in Michigan are not proficient readers.

“It is important that we work together as a community to increase our state’s literacy rate and empower individuals to reach their full potential,” said Race.

A study from Yale University found that 1 in 5 people (20% of the populations) have a learning disability that affects their capacity to read. This means, every year, 120,000 students are found to have learning disabilities. 2.4 million school children now share a diagnosis. To combat these staggering numbers, SLD Read created a community effort to reduce illiteracy rates in order to allow individuals to achieve full potential.  This is achieved by working alongside students with dyslexia, learning differences, and other reading challenges to develop lifelong language skills through a multisensory approach; assisting educators to identify learning challenges by providing training and techniques to enhance their reading curriculum; increasing community awareness and understanding of literacy issues.

Without appropriate intervention programs like SLD Read, 74% of children diagnosed with learning differences will continue to experience reading difficulties into adulthood. For success in the 21st century communities, individuals of all ages must be more than functionally literate in all facets of society: at home, in the community and in the school. For change to occur, supports are required in all environments to combat the literacy crisis and positively impact brain development.  

Those who wish to support SLD Read can visit www.sldread.org or www.facebook.com/sldreadmi for more information.

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