Reading is such an integral part to everyday life and it is often taken for granted. Street signs and restaurant menus are effortless to understand for many, but without reading skills even simple tasks can be confusing, off-putting or even prevent some from getting the basic necessities of life.
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy reports that among the 23,583 residents of Bell County, 18 percent are unable to read or comprehend basic sentences at an eighth-grade level. This striking number means that nearly one fifth of citizens will have a tough time performing basic tasks in a fast-food workplace or understanding ingredient lists on food items in the grocery store.
The Bell County Council on Literacy aims to prepare citizens with educational materials and skills needed to better their future including basic reading, improving study habits or receiving a GED.
“The majority of people here want to learn how to read so they can read the Bible and read books to their grandchildren. This region is very proud, there’s a lot of pride, but when they can’t read a story book to their grandchild, that’s when they show up for help from us,” said Ann Maciula, co-chair of BCCL.
While the BCCL is partially funded by the United Way, the annual Scrabble for Literacy Tournament helps to provide these services to non-readers in the area. The tournament is scheduled for April 9 at 6 p.m. at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
Scrabble teams have raised $5,000, which is being sponsored by several local businesses.
“This event has been a big hit in the past and we’ve sold more than we originally hoped to. I think people know what a big event this has become and they know what it means to the people that use our services,” said Patty Burnside, president of the BCCL.
The BCCL has received enough donations for teams; however those teams are still looking for Scrabble players. If you are interested in participating, contact Burnside at 606-248-3169 or 606-248-4000 with your name and telephone number.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.