Friday, April 4, 2014
Braving the rain, wind and overall terrible weather, members of the Mount Pleasant Police Department (MPPD) Reading Patrol, the 2014 class of Leadership South Carolina, as well as parents and kids took their marks along the starting line to take a run through the mud to promote childhood literacy throughout the state. The first ever Book'n It! 5K Fun Run and Walk took place Saturday, March 29 at Palmetto Islands County Park, and while the weather was anything but ideal, participants were thrilled to support the cause.
The race was organized by Leadership S.C. member Chris Cook as a way to help raise funds and awareness for the Readers2Leaders campaign to fight childhood illiteracy in South Carolina. The 5K is part of an ongoing initiative by this year's Leadership S.C. class that includes Mount Pleasant Town Council Member Chris Nickels and 2014 South Carolina Teacher of the Year Darleen Sutton. Money raised for the Leaders2Readers program will go towards specially training a small group of teachers to deal with at-risk youth who have trouble reading. Once trained, these 15 educators will travel to specific target areas around the state to work with students. The class is well on their way to their goal of $100,000.
Also on hand at the event was the MPPD Reading Patrol, who read a book to the kids and handed out junior deputy badges following the run. Established last November by Sgt. Les Mauldin, who spearheaded the project along with Cpl. William Dorfner, the Reading Patrol provides readings to local kids the third Saturday of every month.
“I approached Barnes and Nobles and Police Chief Carl Ritchie and they were onboard immediately,” said Mauldin.
“The program is a great way to build a rapport with officers and youth while making reading fun.” CPO Bryce Gregory, a member of the Reading Patrol, was also at the event and spoke about how the program not only helps promote literacy, but also fosters healthy relationships between kids and their local police. “Kids are always excited to have a book read to them. But when it comes from a police officer, it can mean so much more,” said Gregory. “As officers, we have this image and we have a job to do, but we are also here to help people.”
“Children who can read are less likely to fall through the cracks,” said Sgt. Mauldin. “They are more likely to stay in school and become productive members of society.”
Dustin Waters is one of our staff reporters and the staff copy editor. Follow Dustin on Twitter @MNreports for more news updates.