PHOTO: John Talerico of Middletown reads to beginning readers at Atlantic Highlands Elementary School as part of Family & Children Service’s Reading Buddies Program
LONG BRANCH, NJ – It’s back-to-school time and Family & Children’s Service (FCS), whose mission is to serve people at vulnerable times in their lives through education, intervention, care and counseling, is seeking enthusiastic adult volunteers for two of its school-based learning programs, Reading Buddies, and its newest undertaking, Healthy Buddies.
Now in its 15th year, Reading Buddies is a weekly intergenerational shared reading program currently operating in 17 public elementary schools in underserved communities throughout Monmouth County. Last year, Reading Buddies enriched the learning experiences of more than 1600 students from kindergarten through second grade. Reading Buddy volunteers must commit at least one hour each week during the school year to read aloud with young students in small group settings in the classroom. No previous experience is required, and training and books are provided.
The success of Reading Buddies inspired FCS to launch a similar program this year. Healthy Buddies is an intergenerational nutrition and activity program that partners adult volunteers with students in second through fifth grade. Currently in two schools and expanding to four in the fall, the program uses an evidence-based curriculum in which adult volunteers work directly with the children by leading or supporting nutrition lessons and physical activities. By modeling positive behavior, the volunteers help students gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to maintain and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. No previous teaching experience is required and volunteers do not need to perform any physical activity. Training will be offered and all materials supplied.