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State Honoree

Brittany Oliver

Indiana

Brittany Oliver, 18, of Lafayette, Ind., a senior at Lafayette Jefferson High School, initiated a program called "Reading Teams" that recruits school and community volunteers to read to young children in day-care centers and after-school programs. Brittany said she remembers how her parents used to read to her every night, and how that stimulated her interest in learning and prepared her to be successful in school. But "many parents, unfortunately, are not convinced of the extreme need for reading to their children," she said. So Brittany set out to solve that problem.

First, she and her sister volunteered to read to kids at a local YMCA. "I was amazed at how thrilled the children were to have big' kids come to spend time and read to them," said Brittany. Then, realizing there were ways to make a bigger impact, she began contacting day-care centers and after-school programs to propose regular reading sessions for their children. Next, she recruited volunteer readers, organized them into teams, and arranged regularly scheduled reading sessions. This year, Brittany is managing 80 volunteers at 10 reading sites. "The most significant measure of Reading Teams' success is the excitement that can be seen on the faces of the children when a volunteer comes to read," she said.