2,700 Children in Virginia Beach Benefited from Read Across America Day

Thursday, March 05, 2015

GrowSmart, a division of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, sponsored the City’s first annual Read Across America Day on March 2, 2015. GrowSmart recruited more than 120 community volunteers to read to children enrolled at 33 preschools and child care sites in Virginia Beach.

GrowSmart also partnered with Virginia Beach Public Library to provide books and materials for an additional 36 classrooms in 14 early education sites. The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health received books and materials for an additional 225 children participating in infant play groups and visiting Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) offices. All 185 participating classrooms and programs received a beautiful hardcover copy of Dr. Seuss’s “My Many Colored Days,” courtesy of GrowSmart. In all, more than 2,700 children participated in Monday’s event. Each child received a Dr. Seuss reading award and sticker.

This year’s guest readers came from many city departments, including 70 Fire, Police, and Emergency Medical Services volunteers, and five department directors – Police Chief Jim Cervera, Fire Chief Steve Cover, Economic Development Director Warren D. Harris, Virginia Beach Department of Public Health Director Dr. Heidi Kulberg, and Parks & Recreation Director Michael Kalvort. Other departments with staff representation included: Human Services, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Parks and Recreation, and Economic Development. Wells Fargo, Fleet & Family Services/U.S. Navy, the Small Business Development Center of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Divaris Real Estate, Anthem, Inc. and the Lions Club participated as community partners.

Read Across America Day is a national event sponsored by the National Education Association to recognize and celebrate the importance of early literacy. It coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday each year. GrowSmart began its involvement with Read Across America in 2014, as part of Virginia Beach READS, the local campaign in the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading effort.

GrowSmart promotes and improves the healthy physical, cognitive and social-emotional development for the prenatal to age 8 population in Virginia Beach. GrowSmart has developed a complete resource center for Virginia Beach parents at www.vbgrowsmart.com.  It can also be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vbgrowsmart.

The mission of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development is to attract and retain national and international businesses to stimulate capital investment and create jobs. Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia with a population of 440,000, and it is the 37th largest in the United States. It is recognized as one of the Best Run Cities in America by 24/7 Wall St. The Department of Economic Development received re-accreditation through the International Economic Development Council in 2012 and is one of only 29 economic development organizations in the world to have this recognition. It is listed among the Top Five Overall Mid-sized American Cities of the Future, Top 10 for Economic Potential and Top Five for Infrastructure by fDi magazine. CNNMoney.com ranked Virginia Beach as the Easiest Place to Start a Business and the 2nd Most Business-Friendly City in the country. For more information, visit www.yesvirginiabeach.com.

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Pictured: Warren Harris with Read Across America Day Participants at the Learn With Me Academy in Virginia Beach.

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