Jayhawks Participate in READ Across America Event

Lawrence, Kan. – March 3rd 2009

More than 60 University of Kansas student-athletes volunteered to read to local children for Read Across America Monday, March 2nd. Read Across America is a nationwide event that promotes reading in celebration of famed children’s book author Dr. Seuss’s birthday. More than 1,900 local students at 12 elementary schools listened to the student-athletes read a Dr. Seuss book, and were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the student-athlete as well as Kansas Athletics.

“READ Across America was the highlight of my week, those kids are so cute,” said Julie Hanley, a senior on the women’s soccer team. “It gave us the opportunity to take a break from our busy schedules and give back to the community. “The Softball team had such a great time, one little girl feel absolutely in love with our outfielder Liz Kocon,” said Ally Stanton, a junior on the softball team. “The little girl was googly eyed and smiling the entire time. At the end of our visit she gave us huge hugs and did not want us to leave.” Drew Dudley, a junior on the football team, said the READ program is “a great opportunity to share with kids the importance of reading and education. The Dr. Seuss book I read reminded me of the good old days, I had just as much fun reading the book as the kids did listening.”

KU Libraries and Kansas Athletics have teamed up to promote literacy on campus and throughout the Lawrence community. “Our student-athletes really embrace the opportunity they have to make a positive impact in the community,” said KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins. “We look forward to the READ program growing, along with all of our other community outreach programs.” Mike Harrity, the Assistant Athletics Director of Student-Athlete Development expressed similar sentiments. “The student-athletes always have a wonderful time meeting the young students and participating in READ events throughout the year. This annual event is one that we look forward to all year, and our student-athletes enjoy the opportunity to read their favorite childhood books and share how fun reading can be.”

READ posters have been distributed to all Lawrence elementary schools and are given to students during the READ visits. Karen Wycoff, Library Media Specialist at New York Elementary, is thrilled with the READ program and has schedule weekly visits by Jayhawk student-athletes. “Our students look up to the Jayhawks and feel special when they walk into their classrooms,” Wycoff said. “When the student-athletes stress the importance of reading and how fun it can be, the kids get into the story and ask a lot of questions. The visits open up doors to our students and help them realize that reading can be cool.” Anyone interested in a READ visit to a Lawrence area elementary school can contact Mike Harrity, KU Assistant Athletics Director of Student-Athlete Development, at mharrity@ku.edu.