JetBlue soars with reading program landed in Fort Lauderdale
Children get autographs from Fort Lauderdale Strikers’ Chris Nurse and Mitchell Lopez.
By Derek Joy
JetBlue Airlines brought its Summer Literacy Campaign, “Soar With Reading”, to the African American Research Library and Cultural Center.
The airlines and its national partners – Random House Children’s Books and New York Times Best Selling Author Mary Pope Osborne – gained the support of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Franchise to sponsor this two part event for 600 area elementary school kids.
“We’re thrilled that JetBlue and the Magic Tree House are here today,” said Aneatra King, coordinator for Broward County Library. “This encourages kids to read and the magic of reading.”
So, the program proceeded to entertain kids during two hour sessions.
“We’re here to encourage you to read,” said Ben Markus of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who was joined by Strikers’ players Chris Nurse and Mitchell Lopez. “Reading is the most powerful tool in the world. Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power.”
The event was staged as the
U.S. Soccer Team competed in the World Cup of Soccer. It gave Markus a chance to tell the kids that soccer has the most fans in the world. Soccer is played on all seven continents and in every country in the world, Markus said.
Reading came into play when Albert Ruiz enlisted the help of Taniyah Day in reading from Osborne’s book, Soccer on Sunday. Day was one of the 300 kids who attended the first session.
Magic Tree House Characters Jack and Annie were joined by Mariah Graham in an entertaining song encouraging kids to read and become members of the Magic Tree House reading program.
“It started with a small group in Deerfield four years ago,” said JetBlue Supervisor Swati Dholakia. It’s grown tremendously. We didn’t have a facility as big as this center. We’re very thankful the Strikers supported us.
“Our pilots couldn’t do their jobs if they couldn’t read,” Swati told the kids. “No matter what you do you have to be able to read in order to be successful; rewarding can help you discover things about sports, history, science and the world.”
That message was repeated by King, Ruiz, Markus, Nurse and Lopez, who, with the help of several kids, demonstrated passing and other skills in the game of soccer.
Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House characters were equally skillful and entertaining in encouraging kids to read, explore the magic of learning through reading.
The characters, which are from Los Angeles, travel the country entertaining and encouraging kids to read with the Magic Tree House Program.
“Our mission is to inspire humanity with our ‘Soar With Reading’ Program” said JetBlue’s Kate Wetzel. “It is translated in many languages around the world. It also encourages kids to donate books to other kids.
“We generated $750,000 worth of books that have been donated in the past. Our goal is to have $500,000 worth of books donated by the end of the summer,” added Wetzel, while noting that JetBlue has staged this event in its other markets, including Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, the Dominican Republic and Orlando.