Chase, right, was four when he signed up for a reading program and learned how to read virtually at the age of 5. Chase is on the path to greatness and is an amazing reader now.
Literacy can have one of the most profound effects on a human being and that upward or downward trend can be established as early as in the third grade.
Low-income children hear 30 million fewer words by the age of five than their more affluent peers and being a proficient reader by the third grade is the single highest predictor of high school graduation and a successful career, according to statistics.
The literacy crisis is real and in one corner of the world the answer to addressing these issues starts with movement one man started several years ago.
Through the annual 5K Run/Walk for Literacy Awareness (initially held three years ago in Detroit), the aim is to not only improve education in youth but to lessen the risk of incarceration down the line.
“It is time for more people to start caring as we cannot continue to see the paltry reading proficiency rates in urban communities,” Founder of the 5K Run/Walk for Literacy Awareness Eric Brown said. “That is what The Elijah Craft & Chase Byers Reading Matters 5K Run/Walk for Literacy Awareness is all about. My motto, ‘Taking steps to make a difference,’ and it all begins with you.”
It is estimated that the cost of bringing literacy on par in a sample size of 20 school districts across America is over $3 billion. The average annual cost of housing a prisoner in America is $31,286 (Vera Institute of Justice) versus a $12,624 annual per pupil cost in the public school system (https://educationdata.org).
Being literate can also significantly reduce the school-to-prison pipeline.
An upcoming 5K Run/Walk for Literacy Awareness is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon August 20 at the University Park at Eastern Michigan University Park in Ypsilanti and from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Wayne State University Central Campus.
Brown stated on his website that five years ago, he learned about a 12th grader reading at a second-grade level and he knew he had to be the change.
“I found this to be unacceptable,” he said. “Not long after that, I read a report that came out of the state of California Department of Education speaking to the fact that 75% of Black boys were not reading at their grade level. This was even more unacceptable,” he said. “There was only one thing for me to do and that was to make a difference by bringing attention to a crisis that has been ignored by far too many people. If it is to be in making a difference, it is up to me to be a difference-maker.
“To date, many have joined me in my crusade to make a difference and we will not stop until more people get involved to show that they too care. That way, we can collectively eradicate the illiteracy crisis that continues to negatively impact our communities.”
Learn more about the initiative and upcoming walk by clicking here.