CHARLOTTE — A YMCA initiative that started in Charlotte to help children who struggle with reading, is now going national.
Several other cities across the country are following suit this summer with the Y Readers program. Y Readers, a six-week literacy enrichment camp, started in Charlotte in the summer of 1999, as a partnership between the YMCA and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
Over the years, the summer initiative expanded in to a year round program and today, Y Readers can be found in dozens of locations across the area. But now, it is spreading even further.
“Silicon Valley, Evanston, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Tampa,” said Yolanda Bynum.
Y-USA is piloting the successful program in the 5 new cities. For teaching assistant, Daysi Poggo, it is easy to see why.
"You have Pre-k children that come in to this program not knowing all their letters and then when they start kindergarten and you see them, you know what, they saw this material in the summer and there's just no stopping them," said Poggo.
"We started out seeing a 2 or 3 month gain in literacy and as recent as last summer we had a 4 month gain in literacy. I think that's one of the reasons our national office said I think this is something we should take an extra look at," said Bynum.
Poggo called the children's progress inspiring. She said most of her students transform after Y Readers. The program is offered to families at no cost.
In Charlotte, it is funded by the YMCA, grants, Mecklenburg County, and private contributions.