Did You Know?
75% of children who are trafficked do not have a 3rd grade reading level by the 3rd grade. This staggering statistic is one of the driving forces of Back2Back Cincinnati’s reading program. “If we can help children recognize words and understand language, we’re bringing an awareness to them, helping them better identify when safety is present and when it is not,” shared Chris Cox, Director of Back2Back Cincinnati.
Reading is much more than an educational tool, it harnesses opportunity, raises awareness, and provides steps towards dreamt of futures. It is most often where the work of Back2Back staff and the children and teens they serve truly begins.
“I Can’t Read.”
“I can’t read.” Her young face was resolute as she spoke the words without much inflection. It was her response to every adult, volunteer, and child when they would bring up reading. It was her answer when she first started with the Back2Back Cincinnati reading program, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
Debbie, a local volunteer with the reading program, was assigned to the young girl early in the summer. One day, the former teacher realized the young girl wasn’t really understanding what was on the page. Debbie then offered an individualized reading plan for the young girl. Slowly, she recognized sight words and proudly walked from one staff member to another to read the words from a board book.
By the end of the summer, the young girl approached Chris and randomly read words as he pointed at them. “She knew the words from different books without hesitation at all,” recalled Chris. She finished each word with confidence as he pointed at them, and when they got to the end of the book, she threw her hands in the air. “Chris! I can read!”
Her tutor felt tears fall from her eyes as they all celebrated the young girl and this incredible accomplishment. For the first time, in maybe her whole life, she realized just what she could accomplish when she believed in herself.
This is the power of Back2Back Cincinnati’s reading program and the tireless dedication of staff and volunteers. We are coming together to overcome obstacles set in place due to a pandemic, and tackling disparities which too often hold young minds in place. Feeling the support of their trusted mentors and tutors, girls and boys across the city are putting their foot down, saying, illiteracy stops with them – one word and book at a time.
The Power of a New Story
A young woman entering her senior year is not only navigating a final school year as an adolescent, but also the role of parent. Generationally, women in her family have stepped down from educational opportunities to raise a child, lacking needed resources. This generational pattern of teen pregnancy recently halted as her story blossomed. Back2Back’s partnership with Bloc has given resources to the young woman, so she can remain in school, receiving tutoring services from Back2Back, and have financial ability to care for herself and her child.
Together, she and Back2Back staff are working on a schedule for her tutoring, so she can stay in school and work towards graduation. They are developing plans to allow her to parent well, while holding tight to her own dreams for her future. With the guidance provided, she is able to become a mentor herself for younger girls in the community, as well as her own child. This is the power of reading, of knowing her own worth, and of breaking cyclical patterns.