NKY connects baseball with learning through All-Stars Read On! program

The Big Red Machine. Pete Rose. Riverfront Stadium. Barry Larkin. Marty Brennaman.

A uniquely baseball-centric history pervades everything in Greater Cincinnati, from our national identity to our earliest childhood memories. It’s especially true for thousands of Northern Kentuckians who are greeted each day by a dazzling skyline and city that put baseball front and center.
As anticipation builds for the MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park on July 14, Northern Kentucky is working to connect baseball with education through an All Stars Read On! (ASRO) summer learning initiative that promises memories in the making for a new generation of readers and baseball fans.
Greater Cincinnati’s chapter of the national Read On! Campaign for Early Grade-Level Reading involves partnerships among more than 70 multi-sector organizations and 19 school districts throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. In addition to summer learning, the program promotes kindergarten readiness and school attendance.
The Northern Kentucky Education Council (NKYEC) is one such partner, incorporating Read On! strategies in the council’s continuing efforts to improve education across the various school districts in nine Northern Kentucky counties.

“Working with Read On! was an absolute fit,” NKYEC Executive Director Polly Page says. “We’re really happy that we could help champion it.”
Read On! focuses primarily on K-3 children, a critical age for life-long development, according to the organization’s website.
“Students who are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than those who are,” the site claims. Research also shows that many children experience significant decreases in reading level and other skills when school is not in session — a phenomenon known as summer slide.
That’s why, when Cincinnati announced it would host the All-Star Game, the timing was perfect to focus on summer reading.
“A staggering 80 percent of low-income children do not read at grade-level by the end of third grade,” says Northern Kentucky ASRO Chair Mike Sipple. “Connecting childhood literacy with the game helps raise awareness, it makes learning fun and it will hopefully help us recruit more reading coaches for the NKYEC’s One-to-One Reading program so that we can continually address this need.”
Read On! worked quickly after the All-Star Game announcement, reaching out to members of the game’s designated Community Organization Committee (COC) tasked with promoting the dozens of community improvement efforts and events surrounding the game. One such event, Baseball Across the Region (BATR), follows an official MLB baseball as it travels as far north as Dayton and as far south as Louisville — Olympic-torch style — making appearances at various All-Star Neighborhood events.
COC Co-Chair Melanie Chavez described a recent BATR event at Florence’s Erpenbeck Elementary, when children participated in “Wear Red Fridays” and got an introduction to Read On! as well as a chance to hang out and have their picture taken with the Reds’ Gapper mascot and the traveling baseball.
“For many of those kids, that will be their All-Star memory,” Chavez says. “That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to capture.”
Read On! also accompanied BATR in early June to public libraries in Boone and Pendleton counties, where attendees received a free copy of Curious George at the Baseball Game.
“I imagine someone opening up their book 20 years from now and seeing that message from the summer of 2015, remembering all the excitement they felt,” Sipple says. “It’s a way to feel part of something.”
Events supporting All Stars Read On! will take place throughout the end of June at area libraries and learning centers and will feature celebrity readers, book giveaways and other baseball-themed activities.

Get Involved with the All-Star Game

• Reds Fridays: Wear red to show your team spirit and win prizes by using the hashtag #RedsFridays and posting to the Batter Up Cincy Facebook page.

• Baseball Story Project: Submit your Cincinnati baseball story (100 words max.) to [email protected]. Stories will be featured on Batter Up Cincy Facebook page.

• Baseball Across the Region: Follow the official MLB baseball as it makes its way across Greater Cincinnati and on to its final destination, the Reds Hall of Fame.

• All-Star Neighborhood Celebrations in Bellevue/Dayton and Taylor Mill: As NKY’s chosen All-Star Neighborhoods, Bellevue/Dayton and Taylor Mill will host special events leading up to the big game. Check their Facebook pages (linked above) for updates and details.

Taylor Mill events
> Touch-a-Truck and #RedsFriday Night Flick, 7 p.m. June 26 at Pride Park
> Taste of Taylor Mill and Baseball Across the Region ceremony, 5 p.m. July 1 on Holland Drive at Taylor Mill Road 
> Taylor Mill All-Star Neighborhood Celebration, 5 p.m. July 14 at Pride Park
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