What’s Working: Bristol YMCA’s Reading Buddy summer program

Every morning, students from Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia public schools’ Reading Buddy program spend an hour at the Bristol YMCA practicing their reading.

‘The whole idea is to help children with their reading slide to make sure that they are continuing to either maintain their reading levels or improve it in the summer time,” said YMCA CEO Craig Ayers.

The eight-week full-day summer camp is free for these 30 Reading Buddy students in grades 1st through 3rd grade.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Bristol Chapter of the United Way,

“This summer program is very unique in the fact that we’ve never done it before. It’s the first year and the statistics on what happens to kids in their reading levels when they don’t have any reading interaction with others is very high,” said Lisa Cofer.

The program is also made possible by the nearly 30 volunteers that spend an hour a day reading with the children,

“Listerning to them as they make voices, say the voices back and forth to them, and just watch their brains and their attitudes change and light up,” said volunteer Christine Riser.

“[It’s] so rewarding watching them make strides and know that you’ve made a difference in helping them learn.,” said volunteer Quinne Bryant.

An entire community coming together to make sure students have every chance to succeed.

“We believe we are really putting them on a path to success in reading, said Ayers.

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