May 9, 2018

On today's show we take The Peace Fund's Interactive Storytelling program to Young Horizons in Long Beach.  We talk with Erin Fitzgerald and Raphael Frensley from Storybots as they entertain 66 pre-school children through reading and later we sit down with Alma Bugarin, the Site Supervisor.  Bruce Gale brings us an interview this week's Kid Hero, Khloe Thompson, from Orange, CA.

Learning to read is one of the most important skills that a person can develop.  Not only is literacy critically important in everyday activities, it is the key to academic success.

Worldwide, low literacy rates can be linked to a wide range of issues, including high infant mortality, the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other preventable infectious disease; prejudice against women, including female infanticide and female circumcision; and extreme poverty.

Over 93 million Americans have basic or below-basic literacy. Low literacy rates costs the United States over $200 billion each year. 

A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Early Reading Proficiency in the United States", finds that two-thirds of all children are not meeting an important benchmark: reading at grade level at the start of fourth grade. Of even greater concern is that the gap between students from higher- and lower-income families is growing wider.  80% of lower-income fourth graders and 66% of all kids are not reading proficiently - a key predictor of a student’s future educational and economic success. If this trend continues, the country will not have enough skilled workers for an increasingly competitive global economy by the end of this decade.

Research from the reports found that children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school, are less likely to fall into poverty and are more likely to find a job that can adequately support their families.

Adrian, Raffi Frensley and Erin Fitzgerald
Adrian, Raffi Frensley and Erin Fitzgerald

The Peace Fund is working to bring a passion for reading to children through its Interactive Storytelling program.  Research shows that the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to prior to beginning school. Having books in the home is twice as important as the father’s education level. Through our program, these children get to take home a copy of the book after the event...a book that they can share with parents and siblings.

In March, we took the program to 67 3 – 5 year old kids at Young Horizons in Long Beach.  We were joined by our friend Erin Fitzgerald, a voice actor, and Raffi Frensley from Storybots.  Raffi provided the Storybot books for all the kids through Red Leaf Press.  We talked with Erin and Raffi after the event.

Young Horizons
Young Horizons

We also had the opportunity to sit down with the Young Horizons Central Pacific Site Supervisor, Alma Bugarin.  The mission of Young Horizons Child Development Centers is to provide quality childcare and preschool programs in a caring, loving and learning environment.

Affordable childcare continues to be a critically needed service. Because of their services, parents who cannot afford private childcare are able to go to work, look for work, or attend school, knowing their child is cared for and learning in a safe, loving, and high-quality environment.  For hundreds of young children, Young Horizons is “my home-away-from-home.”

They serve 340 preschoolers at their five centers.  

Khloe Thompson at WE Day California
Khloe Thompson at WE Day California

On today’s Kid Hero segment, Bruce Gale talks with 11 year old Khloe Thompson, from Orange, CA.  

At the age of 9, Khloe founded Khloe Kares to serve her community by distributing “Kare Bags” to those who are less fortunate. Khloe is proving that her age has nothing to do with her ability to impact the world around her. She believes that she can give back by serving others, being a positive kid, spreading awareness about compassion, and being role model.
Khloe makes large, sturdy, colorful carry “Kare” bags and fills them with almost all of the essential items that a homeless woman might want or need.  She then takes them around Los Angeles to the areas with the largest homeless populations.  @KhloeKares