All America Polk County Read

Watching a Tigers GameSpecial to Lakeland Local by Cheryl Johnston and Lillian Blessing

The Library of Congress has designated September as National Literacy Month, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has proclaimed September 8th as International Literacy Day. In cooperation, Polk County Literacy Councils, schools, and libraries invite public participation in a new annual month long celebration, “All America Polk County Community Read.”

Make family plans to attend the September 20th event, held in connection with the USF Diversity Partnership’s Multicultural Week and Family Day, hosted again this year at the downtown Polk Museum of Art and Lakeland Public Library. Enjoy cultural entertainment, stories, music, and interactive arts/crafts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children get creative with hands-on involvement as adults appreciate the “teachable moments.” The museum and many family day activities are fully accessible. Admission and activity participation is free.

The Community Read idea was proposed to READ Lakeland board members by Gaye Ciecinski of West Area Adult School, who is also a READ Polk board member. READ Lakeland, the local group non-profit group, works to improve lives through literacy, offering free tutoring to motivated adults.

In Lakeland, 24% of adults are functionally illiterate, and the additional 13% of non-English speakers is a continually increasing population. Illiteracy limits employment opportunities, thereby increasing Lakeland’s approximate 15% poverty level, already 2% higher than the national average. Functionally illiterate adults cannot read with their children, comprehend medication instructions, follow transportation directions, or accomplish many daily life tasks.

READ Lakeland hopes to involve individuals, businesses, and organizations in its mission. Everyone benefits with improved literacy. Learn more about the All America Polk County Community Read events by contacting Lillian Blessing of READ Lakeland at (863) 521-5502.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tom Hagerty