by | Jul 11, 2024 | Other News

In a world where technology often seems to pull people apart, the Be A Reader Literacy Project is bringing generations together. Senior adults in Norfolk and Virginia Beach are stepping up to mentor second graders in Title I schools, and in the process, they’re discovering that this act of community service benefits both the young and the young at heart. 

The Be A Reader Literacy Project (BeAR) is designed to foster a love of reading among children by pairing them with mentors who can provide one-on-one support. For second graders, this is a critical time in their educational journey as they are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn, making it crucial to develop strong literacy skills. Senior adults, with their wealth of life experience and patience, are perfectly suited to help guide these young learners. 

Mentoring young students brings immense joy and satisfaction. The enthusiasm and curiosity of second graders is infectious; reminding mentors of the wonders of discovery and the simple pleasures of stories. Seniors look forward to their weekly sessions, where they read books, discuss stories, and play educational games. This interaction helps the children improve their reading skills as well as builds their confidence and love for learning. 

Engaging with young minds has significant cognitive benefits for seniors. Studies show that social interaction and mental stimulation are key to maintaining cognitive function in older adults. By mentoring students, seniors keep their minds active, challenge themselves to think creatively, and stay up to date with new educational strategies and technologies. It’s a dynamic way to exercise the brain and stay mentally fit. 

Valerie Yanku works with her BeAR student. She had his brother as her BeAR student last year, and the younger BeAR was so excited to work with her. Yanku worked with his reading to help him get to grade level, and they often played reading games.
Gordon Bosch is with his BeAR student creating a thrilling floor plan for a new house as a dynamic architect duo.

Participating in the Be A Reader Literacy Project also contributes to seniors’ physical and emotional wellbeing. Regularly scheduled activities provide a sense of routine and purpose, which is vital for emotional health. The physical act of getting ready, traveling to the school, and engaging in interactive sessions keeps seniors moving. Additionally, the emotional connection formed with the children adds to their sense of fulfillment and reduces feelings of loneliness or isolation. 

The Be A Reader Literacy Project is a shining example of how community service can create a positive impact across generations. For children, it’s an opportunity to receive personalized attention and support that might not be possible in a crowded classroom. For seniors, it’s a chance to give back, stay active, and feel valued. For the community, it’s a way to build stronger bonds and ensure that both the young and the elderly are cared for and engaged. 

Joining the Be A Reader Literacy Project is straightforward. United Jewish Federation provides training, resources, school supplies, and books for BeAR mentors. No prior teaching experience is necessary—just a passion for reading and a willingness to share that passion with a child. 

In today’s fast-paced world, the Be A Reader Literacy Project offers a way to slow down and connect, and a reminder that learning and growth are lifelong journeys and that together, different generations can achieve remarkable things. 

For more information, contact Robin Ford at 757-321-2304 or