Ashland, Ore.– “I like to read learning books like dinosaurs,” exclaims Ashland 1st grader Byron.
Ashland first graders spent Wednesday enjoying one of their favorite pastimes.
“It’s fun to read,” says Saya, a first grader from Walker Elementary.
“Ashland Reads’ is an annual event put on by the Ashland Rotary and it encourages little ones to explore their love of books.
“You can learn new stuff,” ways Eva, another Walker Elementary student.
And while it was a fun filled day, complete with storytelling and sing-a-longs, there is a larger purpose.
“Reading is the key to learning so we want to make sure all of our children are successful at that,” explains Juli DiChiro, member of the Ashland Rotary.
And an even deeper reason behind the program itself. It’s creator, John Jorgensen has a personal reason for starting the initiative.
“After my wife Sue was killed in a tragic automobile accident…we wanted to share what an amazing person she was and it has stretched far beyond that,” Jorgensen explains.
There began ‘”Wyoming Reads”, a program created in the Jorgensen’s home state and a way to carry on Sue’s legacy.
“Two things she was passionate about were books and children,” says Jorgensen.
Now, 19 years since it was first created, cities in four states have modeled their own programs after it including “Ashland Reads” now in its second year.
“For them to see all of these people here, that just makes a huge impact,” says Tiffany Burns, Principal at Walker Elementary. “They feel loved they feel special.”
An impact the program leaders hope will turn into a life long passion.