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UNC Athletes Read Like Champions

Wednesday, February 5 was World Read Aloud Day 2020, so it was a perfect date to hold the third annual Read Like a Champion celebration of literacy, presented by Duke Energy and UNC Student-Athlete Development. At nine CHCCS elementary schools, in 37 classrooms, 50 athletes read dozens of picture books and then distributed 900 books and bookmarks to their enthusiastic listeners. 

KJ Smith Reads at FPG At Frank Porter Graham (FPG), all fourth grade classes hosted athletes, including KJ Smith, UNC basketball player and soccer player, Rachel Jones. Teacher Kristin Jackson said, "Our fourth graders treated the UNC athlete readers like celebrities (even asking for their autographs); we are grateful the student-athletes took the time to engage and inspire us."

FPG School Librarian, Janet Peterson, said, “Modeling reading is incredibly important. Elementary school years are a crucial time for children to see role models reading and engaging with books.  Even in upper elementary grades, children enjoy being read to."

Korie Sawyer Rich, assistant director at UNC Student-Athlete Development, organized the schedule and provided logistical support for the day. “Our student-athletes love the opportunity to make an impact in our community, and  school reading days are one of the most fun ways they do that,” Rich said. 

Community outreach leaders from Duke Energy, Indira Everett, Meredith Archie and Amy Strecker, visited classrooms with the athletes, and at Seawell Elementary School (SES), they joined in the excited welcome of the UNC mascot, Rameses the Ram.

UNC athletes read at Ephesus “The impact of having people outside of our school community, like the men and women athletes from UNC, helps reinforce that reading is for everyone,” said SES School Librarian, Laura Nolan. “It helps our students, especially those who may be reluctant readers or those without an established or limited reading culture at home, look at reading with a different lens and challenge their own ideas about who reads or who they think does not read.”

 “The UNC athlete "Read Like a Champion Day" helps us continue to build and support a strong reading culture at Seawell,” Nolan said. “Our students love these visits from athletes (and this year's surprise visit from UNC mascot Rameses!). They consider these men and women local heroes and hearing about how reading is important to them in their own lives has so much impact. We are so grateful to the athletes, Korie Sawyer at UNC Student Athlete Development, and Duke Energy for planning and sponsoring these events for our students.”