St. Luke's University Health Network

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Reading Rocks - Kickoff of Third Annual Program

St. Luke's and Lehigh University Dept. 
of Athletics Kick-Off Third Annual
Reading Rocks! Literacy Program

Bethlehem, PA (9/28/2010) - St. Luke's Hospital and the Lehigh University Department of Athletics have teamed up once again to sponsor Reading Rocks! a children's literacy mentoring program at Donegan Elementary School, 1210 East Fourth Street, Bethlehem.

The media is invited to visit Donegan this Thursday, September 30th at 2 pm when Lehigh student athletes will visit the school for a kickoff assembly to launch this year's reading program.

More than 400 Donegan students from kindergarten through fifth grade, will hear positive, inspirational messages from the Lehigh student athletes regarding the importance of reading and working hard in school.

Improving Literacy Rate Among Children

Now in its third year, Reading Rocks! is a community outreach program jointly led by St. Luke' and the Lehigh University Department of Athletics which aims to improve the literacy rate among disadvantaged children in the community. The program uses fun incentives to encourage reading at home and also sponsors weekly after-school sessions in which students work with volunteers who serve as reading mentors and role models. "We felt it was important to reach out to our community, to our neighbors, and use our collective resources to help disadvantaged children. Working with Donegan Elementary School to develop a meaningful, results-oriented reading program seemed a natural fit for all concerned," says Susan Schantz, Vice President, Corporate Communications, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network. Donegan serves a low-income, bilingual minority population of students, many of whom qualify for free/reduced lunch and perform below grade level. Studies have shown that a direct correlation exists between literacy at a young age and general health and wellbeing.

Lehigh Students Support the Program

Lehigh student athletes provide the volunteer support for Reading Rocks! "Our athletes, through our C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping) Program, have a long-standing relationship with the kids at Donegan. The athletes love to give back to the community and through Reading Rocks! they have a meaningful opportunity to serve as a positive role model for the students. The kids at Donegan look up to our athletes and realize if they apply themselves in school they can also be successful in life," says Roseann Corsi, Public Relations Coordinator, Lehigh University Department of Athletics.