Interact Club’s “Step into Literacy” Program

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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
A Thurgood Marshall Kindergartener looks through a Bernstein Bears book given to him by an Oxnard High School student member of the Interact Club during the "Step into Literacy" event on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Oxnard High School’s Interact Club “Step Into Literacy” program visited the Kindergarten classes of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. The brainchild of Interact Advisor Past-President Jourdan Jaimene Nichols, the “Step Into Literacy” program creates giant shoes out of used shoeboxes. These shoeboxes are filled with literacy materials such as pencils, pens, markers, paints, books, paper, stickers, erasers, and a personalized letter from the high schooler who made it as well as a small treat. A large portion of the contents of each box were obtained through a donation from Goodwill Industries.

After students decorated and filled the boxes, they gave one to each of their buddies. Each child received their own uniquely customized box and had a chance to get to know their high school buddy as both mentor and friend.

The attractive and sometimes amusing boxes allow 6-year olds to make mistakes and have fun in a non-threatening environment while focusing on the primary goal of teaching the youngsters to tie their shoes.

As a service club for young people ages 12 to 18 operating with the philosophy of “Service Above Self”, Interact seeks ways to help improve the community at-large. So far this year the club – sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oxnard – has done a great deal to make the world a better place with efforts such as beach clean ups, UNICEF fund drives, and a motivational assembly geared towards fellow students

“As high school students we have a responsibility to be role models and teachers to our younger siblings and friends,” says club president Efrain Bravo. He adds, “This is an exciting and thoughtful project, and really gives us each an opportunity to make a long-term, positive impact on our corner of the world.”

Oxnard Rotarians have also thrown themselves into supporting the effort, with the most visible sponsorship so far coming from Goodwill CEO Kathy Leahy She observes “Dozens of teenagers are contributing many more hours than can be counted towards the decoration, design and execution of a really worthwhile idea. If I, as a businessperson, can help them turn their idea into reality by writing a check and donating some of the supplies, I’m MORE than happy to do it.”
“Kathy’s generous contribution has gotten us about half the way, and we’re still scrambling for contributions,” Bravo observes. “We’re also working towards getting beautifully designed shirts for our club members. While we have the design, we’re very interested in speaking with companies that might be interested in having us incorporate their logo in exchange for financial aid.”

Dovetailing with Bravo’s comments, Rotary president John Clay, Jr. urges all area businesses to get involved in this or other Rotary-related projects. “Right now we all have a chance to positively impact the next generation in a big way. Whether you’re a hands-on type or want to support help children monetarily, there’s a place for you to help young people find their place in the world. And it’s all done through Rotary.”

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