The Children’s Initiative developed the Third Grade Reading Project for Seniors, which pairs older adult volunteers throughout the local community with third grade students from around the San Diego Unified School District. The goal of the project is to have adult volunteers mentor children and help increase reading proficiency as well as foster collaboration across generations.
“San Diego is an aging population,” said The Children’s Initiative CEO Sandra McBrayer. “As people age there is the problem of isolation and a lack of belonging, which can lead to both mental and physical issues.”
The Children’s Initiative is a child advocacy agency that urges the community to imagine success for every child in the county and to do what they can to enable it.
“We learned that there are 19,000 third-graders in San Diego County who are reading at a level far lower than they should be,” McBrayer said. “We saw this as an opportunity to mesh the two and solve these problems facing our community.”
The initiative identified the need to better facilitate intergenerational engagement and raise literacy rates. By allowing older community members to mentor the youth in San Diego County, the hope is that both the quality of life of seniors as well as the reading proficiency of children will rise.
The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with The Del Mar Healthcare Fund, determined that the project deserved the 2016 Age Friendly Communities Grant. The Age Friendly Communities Grant recognizes programs working to enhance the quality of life for older adults in San Diego County.
“The San Diego Foundation does great work,” McBrayer said. “The foundation has a commitment to being proud of San Diego and to giving back in order to live a longer and healthier life and I think they acknowledged that we have similar goals.”
The money from the grant is intended to help create communities where older adults can feel included and engaged in all aspects of their community’s daily life.
“The San Diego Region has an opportunity to serve as a global role model by leveraging the talents and energy of its older adults,” said Don Ambrose, president of Del Mar Healthcare.
The initiative tapped into the talents of senior volunteers in San Diego County as role models and teachers for younger generations. Adults are recruited in a variety of ways, trained and then paired with two or three students who the San Diego Unified School District has identified as performing below the appropriate reading level. The students receive tutoring, mentorship and free admission into the before-school and after-school programs offered by The Children’s Initiative.
“It is a great thing for the families of these kids, for the mentoring seniors and the overall San Diego community,” McBrayer said.
The organization is focused on reducing violence and crime and increasing academic success for children across the county. The initiative identifies issues impacting children, youth and families in the county and works to lessen the negative impacts and reverse the damage already done. Success of the initiative’s work is measured by health, education, safety and economic security of the community.
According to The Children’s Initiative operations director Sarah Mostofi, the organization believes that all children deserve to be free of hunger and ailments, they deserve an education that helps them reach their greatest potential, they deserve to grow up in a safe environment free from drugs, alcohol and abuse and they deserve to grow up economically stable with the hope for a secure future. The Children’s Initiative works to make these statements a reality and to provide all people of San Diego with the opportunity to reach their full potential
Want to help?
To volunteer your time or donate to The Children’s Initiative, visit www.thechildrensinitiative.org.