New Program to Increase Literacy

COA's first Family Literacy Summit offers literacy-building workshops and activities for parents and children.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Jun 13th, 2013 10:52 am
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email
Julia Magnasco from First Stage leads an interactive storytelling workshop for children entitled “When I Grow Up.” (Photo courtesy of COA Youth & Family Centers) - See more at: http://www.milwaukeenns.org/2013/06/12/first-ever-coa-family-literacy-summit-shines-light-on-literacy/?pcat=211#sthash.CyEBf3rS.dpuf

Julia Magnasco from First Stage leads an interactive storytelling workshop for children entitled “When I Grow Up.” (Photo courtesy of COA Youth & Family Centers)

More than 100 people attended the COA Youth & Family Centers first Family Literacy Summit, featuring literacy-building workshops and activities for parents and children.

The event took place at the Goldin Center, 2320 W. Burleigh St., in the Amani neighborhood.

“Statistics show that Milwaukee is near the bottom as it relates to fourth-grade and eighth- grade reading scores nationally,” said Andre Goode, community-based program director at COA Youth & Family Centers.

“If nothing else, we did … shine a light on something we should take seriously, and literacy is very important,” he said.

The idea came to Goode as he was looking for ways to provide more literacy support to parents and their children. He, along with several MPS elementary school principals, began planning for the summit in January.

Participants attend a teen poetry workshop entitled “More Than Words” (Photo courtesy of COA Youth & Family Centers)

Participants attend a teen poetry workshop entitled “More Than Words” (Photo courtesy of COA Youth & Family Centers)

COA partnered with the City of Milwaukee Housing Department, Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Succeeds, Milwaukee Bucks and Next Door Foundation, and community partners to host the recent summit.

Representatives from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Public Museum, as well as MPS teachers and COA staff led 40-minute workshops geared toward specific themes.

Parent workshops focused on ways to increase engagement in their children’s literacy development and education, along with adult literacy. For children, there were workshops on literacy strategies, ways to maintain reading skills throughout the summer, problem solving and teamwork. Bilingual workshops for elementary and high school students also were available.

Leslie Woodruff, a staff member at COA Youth & Family Center, participated in the summit.

“I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for families. I think it’s important for people to find out what opportunities are available for them and their children, especially in terms of literacy,” Woodruff said.

Bridget Robinson attended the event with her 14-year old daughter, who attended a poetry workshop led by writer and artist Dasha Kelly.

“She was a big fan of the workshop,” said Robinson, who added that her daughter enjoyed the opportunity to do some writing at the event.

Robinson liked that the summit was for the entire family. “It was something that you could take your children to, mom, dad and grandparents and collectively have an invested interest in reading.”

Riverside High School’s Poetry Slam state champions performed during lunch.

Goode said he was pleased with how the summit was received. “The workshops were very strong and we got really good feedback from everyone who participated. We would absolutely like to do this again next year.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.