Family Friendly Cincinnati is thrilled to welcome Tom Callinan to the site. Tom is a board member with Wordplay, a new startup literacy organization in Northside focused on helping children learn how to read, write and express themselves.
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Reading to your kids is a good thing, a very good thing.
We need to do more of that, yes we do.
But how cool would it be if kids read – words they have crafted – to their parents?
Pretty danged cool. It can happen.
I spent much of this summer with Chase Elementary School students helping them create and craft stories as part of Wordplay’s team in Cincinnati Public Schools Fifth Quarter program. Wordplay, a startup literacy organization on Cincinnati’s Northside, helps kids learn how to read, write and express themselves. It will offer free tutoring from 3 to 6 pm Mondays through Thursdays and from noon to 4 pm Saturdays. The summer program was a test run, with big success.
The “cool kids,” as I called them, struggled at first. They didn’t get it. “You want me to spin this globe, pick a place on Earth and invent a character to go there?”
That first day the globe was a toy (think kids, think basketball). Then, the world opened up to them, spin by spin, bounce by bounce. The toy became a new world treasure. They learned that this summer would not be just more elementary school. It would be imagination school, Wordplay style.
Fast forward a few weeks. Word by word, scribbled drawing by scribbled drawing, their “novels” started coming together. And if you check out Wordplay’s web site, you’ll see the pride these kids showed in their accomplishments. Novels, with their bylines, to take home to read to their families. Wow.
Wordplay needs to do more of that, yes we do, for children throughout Geater Cincinnati.
I do a lot of work with nonprofits on a national level. At conventions, I hear the trendy buzzwords of the trade. Two current hot ones: “Collective Impact” and “Social Enterprise.”
It is so rewarding to have a front seat to see a best practice in those areas developing right here in Northside, Cincinnati. One look at Wordplay’s partnerships shows how much collective community support is aligned with this worthy cause. And its social enterprise arm, The Urban Legend Institute, will help sustain its programs and enrich the “cool kids” experience with an imaginative approach to learning history.
Thanks, Shannan, for inviting me to write this guest post to invite all to the Wordplay/Urban Legend Institute’s open house Saturday, September 8. It will be from 5-10 p.m. at our site at 4041 Hamilton Avenue, Northside.
If you drive down Hamilton often, you will recognize the building with the Shepard Fairey mural of Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to foster free expression in Burma. It’s a bit random that her image is on the side of the building Wordplay secured this summer. But apropos in so many ways.
Free expression. Far away places. Unleash the imagination. And bring it all home. Tell the story.
Pretty much what Wordplay does. No, correct that. Wordplay provides the venue.
The cool kids take it from there.
“Family Friendly” Open House at Wordplay’s Urban Legend Institute
Urban Legend Institute, at 4041 Hamilton Ave.
September 8; 5 to 10 pm
Coincides with Northside’s Second Saturday celebration.
Treats, music, word games and other surprises.
Learn More: Wordplay Cincinnati on Facebook
Tom Callinan is a Wordplay board member and previously was the Editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer. He is now a nonprofit activist aligned with the Charity Defense Council, Social Venture Partners International and other endeavors. He is a board member of the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati and a certified literacy tutor.
Images courtesy of the Wordplay Cincinnati Facebook page.