Maison was a bright, vivacious 4-year-old, living with his family at La Mirada Apartments in Bradenton. With two working parents and no access to camp or other summer learning activities, he didn’t have the tools he needed to be fully prepared to enter kindergarten.
But, thanks to the opening of the brand-new United Way Reading Room at La Mirada in summer 2017, Maison gained access to books, audio books and Launch Pads loaded with literacy prep games and other educational material; all the things he needed to be successful in school.
Fast forward a year, when 5-year-old Maison was joined in the Reading Room by his 4-year-old sister, Kylea. As their father says, “Last year we put my son in this program and he loved it. We saw a difference in him when he was learning, talking and communicating more with us, and we wanted the same for our daughter.”
Maison and Kylea were so excited for this learning opportunity that they each read 73 books over the summer, by reading with volunteers, older children and, even reading on their own. Beyond improving school readiness, the Reading Room has helped them with their social emotional development and enabled their parents to take an active role in their children’s educational future.
Maison and Kylea are now in kindergarten and Pre-K respectively, and thriving. Kylea is participating in the United Way Suncoast ReadingPals program, meeting with her pal each week as she continues her educational development.
There are thousands of kids like Maison and Kylea across the Suncoast. Children who are eager to learn and whose parents want the best for them but, due to circumstances, may not have the same educational opportunities as their more affluent classmates.
United Way Suncoast continues to identify and renovate spaces in neighborhoods surrounding Title 1 schools in Manatee County, giving more kids like Maison and Kylea the head start they need to succeed.