On Friday October 19th, WHSAD hosted the Little Free Library initiative in hopes of bettering literacy rates for Northern Brooklyn community members. During the event, students from WHSAD, M.S. 582, P.S. 126, All City Leadership, Boys and Girls High School, and Brooklyn Tech built and painted for a cause. Students were able to collaborate with students from different schools and explore their creative sides. This can be especially said for Mike Collado, a WHSAD senior, who worked on getting the boxes painted. Mike believes that the significance of the project is that, “[The Little Free Library Initiative] teaches kids to get together for a good cause so they can learn more. They get to learn about painting, building, constructing, carpentry and when they’re done with this, they’re going to learn even more because it’s going to be a little library. Last year when WHSAD hosted the Little Free Library project, I was also painting. This year there is way more students from different schools present, learning and being a part of it too. So it’s not just us, and I think that’s good too because it will spread across, not just our school, but across a bunch of other schools and, who knows, this may turn into a bigger thing than it is right now.”
A strong message of the project is to increase the literacy rates among children. Unfortunately in today’s society, many communities are stricken by low literacy rates, which result in children growing up and not being prepared for the future. It is imperative that we as society work together to fix the literacy problem at its roots before it results in adults unfortunately not being able to function and work in the modern world. WHSAD Seniors Reggie Huggins and Chamonte Greenfield spoke about the impact that the Little Free Library Project would have not only on tackling literacy rates but also on collaborating with younger members of the community.
Chamonte said, “Last year I was involved with the project when we worked with the police officers. The first time was really fun, and this time is a little different because we’re working with all the kids, but it’s still fun because they’re all near our age so it’s more of an incorporation of the youth which is nice. I like that we get to meet new people and teach students how to build libraries because we’re at school which isn’t always the most fun, so taking them out to do this is a really nice thing, and on top of that it helps with community bonding which is really nice.”
Reggie said, “I like the fact that we’re making it available for more people to get a chance to read books that they haven’t and increase literacy rates because it’s something that we have a problem with over here. I feel that the fact that we have these Little Free Libraries benefits everyone because people not only have a chance to donate books but then people can receive books that have been donated. The event is different than last year because last year there was a bigger focus on literacy rates and how it connected with jail time and now it’s focused on literacy rates and how it affects student school grades and that type of relationship. I feel that this is beneficial because now we could just have more students being able to read and write and create a generation that can become smarter.”
Accessibility to proper resources is another issue that can directly affect literacy rates. More often than not children do not have proper access to these valuable resources which they most desperately require. Initiatives like the Little Free Library Project will help by giving members of the community direct access to these valuable resources and improve literacy rates. With this in mind, the project would not have been possible without Broadway Stages, which donated libraries and paints for the event, and McGraw Hill, which donated the books that will stock the libraries. The impact that a few students can have on a community is remarkable and this can be especially observed through this project. The opportunity to participate in projects like this is amazing because not only is it fun but also it’s beneficial and you have the chance to have a genuine impact in someone’s life. You can be the difference in someone’s life, which is something that resonates with a lot of people who participate in these projects. Both council members Antonio Reynoso and Steven Levin attended the event and definitely saw the pride and enthusiasm that make the communities of North Brooklyn so dynamic and inspiring.
Significant educational figures in our community were also present at the event. Executive Superintendent Karen Watts, the office of District 14 Superintendent Alicja Winnicki, and Brooklyn North Superintendent Janice Ross were all very encouraged by the project and the collaboration among schools. In particular, Ms. Ross recognized the importance of students participating in community based initiatives and in regards to The Little Free Library Project, she said, “I’m thrilled and honored to be around such talented children who are working together for the betterment of their community to promote literacy among children.” The students who participated in the event highlighted the strongest aspects of the community and how we could unite for a positive cause despite not even all knowing each other.
The unity of cohorts is the work of Heather Butts,coordinator for Health for Youths, which is responsible time and time again for our many community outreach initiatives. Regarding The Little Free Library she said, “We started working with [WHSAD] a little over a year ago on the Little Free Library project and then we started talking with Superintendent Watts about expanding the project. Today we’re working with three high schools and some middle schools and elementary schools to expand the program throughout North Brooklyn and expand what the program does for literacy, college readiness, other educational efforts, and overall community outreach. There’s been a couple of projects at [WHSAD] around this but this is the kickoff for the North Brooklyn Schools project. The Little Free Libraries are objects, but they are more than that, and so the hope is that they can be taken to the next level of utilizing them to implement other programs within the school. So where I see it going is that the libraries are the the springboard for other programming for older and younger students to collaborate together to do that kind of work with teachers.”
The ability to not only collaborate but also teach, learn, and create at the same time was inspiring to everyone in the room because students were so willing to put their precious time on hold in hopes of potentially bettering the lives of others. That is what not only stood out about the project but what also consistently stands out with the community outreach programs at WHSAD. We students are coming together to work towards the common betterment of our community which truly speaks volumes about the society we live in today. Being able to collaborate with students and other like minded individuals serves as a reminder that we are the future, what we do now has an impact on everyone’s life, so why not come together to work towards something positive in the hopes of affecting someone and something for the better.