Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Read by the River: Emma Gaines '11

This year, Tufts Hillel held the 11th annual literacy carnival Read by the River (RBTR).  I have participated in RBTR for all my four years at Tufts, and I’ve been on the executive organizing committee for three out of those four years.  RBTR has always been one of my favorite things about my Tufts experience, including the planning process and the carnival itself.  From late nights spent drawing decorations at Hillel, to the smile on a child’s face when I hear my 5th consecutive book report on Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I love everything about RBTR!

I’ve always been involved with doing community service with children, and in high school I even worked on some literacy oriented projects.  At Tufts, one of my majors is Child Development.  I think that RBTR is a perfect community service opportunity for me to contribute to the community in the ways that I most want to and am most qualified to.  Although it is easy to get caught up in painting murals or ordering the popcorn for the carnival, when it comes down to it, RBTR is all about the kids. 

For this reason, we are always thinking about ways to make RBTR better for the kids.  We’ve made a lot of improvements just during my time at Tufts – extending our literacy community service initiative beyond just the day of the carnival to a full year commitment and expanding to Somerville, for example.  There have also been little changes that go a long way for the kids – for the first time this year, before the day of the carnival, children drew a picture from their favorite book and wrote about why they loved reading, and we hung these up at the day of the carnival for everyone to see. 

This year we thought of another new improvement for RBTR, which was a parent’s booth.  Thanks to Lauren Estes’ dual leadership, this idea was the brainchild of both the RBTR board and the Hillel organization Vitality, which works to promote health and wellness on Tufts campus.  The idea became a reality, and the booth provided educational information to parents both on literacy and health related issues, and also gave out goody bags with health related products such as toothbrushes and hand sanitizer. 

I think the parent’s booth is a sign that in little ways, RBTR can always change and find more ways to best serve the children who loyally come year after year and have a wonderful day at the carnival.

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