Volunteers nip illiteracy in the bud - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Volunteers nip illiteracy in the bud

October 12, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- Volunteers are making the rounds at elementary schools in Thomas County to help boost literacy rates. They say getting to kids early helps ensure they graduate from high school, and even go on to college.

Kathy Megahee has her marching orders. "We are on a mission today," she says. And her army of literacy advocates are helping her carry them out at schools in Thomasville. "We're going to give students a dictionary," says Megahee.

More than 2000 dictionaries will be passed out over two weeks. It's part of the Thomas County Certified Literate Community Program. "We are working to improve our literacy rates. We want everyone in Thomas County to be able to read and write," says Megahee.

That's a regional effort spread across 14 counties. It garnered so much support, the dictionaries were donated by several local businesses and civic clubs.

"Grateful;" an adjective meaning thankful or appreciative. That's exactly what the kids are for receiving the dictionaries. "It can help you do anything. If you don't know a what a word means, all you have to do is look in the dictionary," says fourth grader, ChinaCalhoun. "My Dad always says when I'm reading a book if I don't know a word I should look it up," adds fellow fourth grader," Sierra Lloyd. "You can carry it in your book bag instead of taking the school's books home," says another fourth grader, Treyveon Powell.

The dictionaries will help groom the kids for high school. Just over 35 percent of people in Thomas County don't have high school diplomas. "If they're educated, they're going to be much better prepared for adulthood," says Megahee. That's still a ways off for the third, fourth, and fifth graders who get the dictionaries.

Less than 15 percent of jobs today don't require high school diplomas or GED's. For more information on the Literate Community Program, call the Department of Technical Education at 404-679-1600.

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