Carol Stevens plays word bingo with a group of children at Savory elementary on the last day of the school year for the Rotary-sponsored BEAR program. (Katherine Engqvist /News Gazette staff)

Volunteers BEAR down to help kids in Langford

Program gets children and volunteers excited about reading

Sometimes kids just need a little extra help.

And that’s just what a group of students struggling with reading at Savory elementary in Langford have been getting thanks to a group of volunteers from the Rotary Club of West Shore.

“We’re hoping it’ll give them a better attitude about reading,” said Rotarian Carol Stevens, who co-ordinated the program. “It shows them someone feels it’s important.”

The club donated $1,000 to the school for new reading materials and members have spent time with students every other week – with a few exceptions – from January until the end of June. The roughly 15 children in Grades 1 and 2 were split into one of two half hour sessions that saw a volunteer read mostly one-on-one with students or play special learning-based games. Each child had their personalized file that tracked their progress as well as contained reading materials at their level.

In the past, the club has done similar programs in other schools but decided to shift back to Langford since that’s where they’re based. This was the second year the program was offered at Savory.

“It’s been really great. I really enjoy it,” Stevens said. “We’ve probably gotten more from it than the kids.”

Deanne Lee, an integrated learning support teacher at the school, said “the kids have loved it. They get excited about getting to read with their big buddy reader.”

The Be Excited About Reading, or BEAR program as it’s called is all about building those connections to help instill this important skill.

“Kids get excited when they see someone supporting them … Any opportunity a child gets to read is a great opportunity,” Lee said. “It’s really great to see the connections.”

She noted every little bit of extra help goes a long way, adding another layer to the children’s education.