Change a Child's Story

April Buske, Director of Discipleship

This year, I had the privilege of attending the Iowa Annual Conference and learning about Bishop Julius C. Trimble’s vision for helping children in Iowa move out of poverty. It got started last year when Bishop Trimble put together a task force to ask the question “How can we help move children from poverty to opportunity”. After researching, holding interviews and trying to find out the best way to move children from poverty to opportunity, the task force unveiled Bishop Trimble’s initiative “Change a Child’s Story”. The premise is that helping a child learn to read and like to read means they have a greater chance of graduating high school, going to college and success in life.

Bishop Trimble challenged the Iowa United Methodists to give one million books to children and one million hours of reading with children. And because I like to know statistics with 175,000 United Methodists across the state, that’s just 6 hours and 6 books per person. What a totally attainable goal. Why? Check out some of these statistics:

  • 61% of children in poverty do not have any children’s books at home (The Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
  • 8,947 Iowa fourth graders were not proficient in reading on 2012 state tests—roughly 1 in 4. (Des Moines Register)
  • Students not proficient in reading a 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
  • Last — Iowa’s rank when it comes to improving reading scores over the past 19 years. (2012 Harvard Study)

The amazing thing is that Christ Church is already doing some of the things that the task force recommended. We are already in partnership with Buchanan Elementary School—one of the schools in Davenport that has the lowest reading scores and highest poverty rates. Several people in our congregation have already stepped up to do the GAP mentorship program at Buchanan Elementary School—essentially helping a student in a one-on-one environment know they are valued. As a church we are working closely with Fairmount Pines, a low-income housing complex right next to Buchanan Elementary School.

This was a huge affirmation to me that we’re focusing our efforts in the right places. It was like God holding up a flashing neon sign telling me that as a church, we need to continue our work at Buchanan Elementary School and Fairmount Pines. Here’s how you can get involved with this initiative right now:

  • Just 1 Thing: children’s books. For August we are collecting new and gently used children’s books. These books will be given to children at Fairmount Pines and Buchanan Elementary School.
  • GAP Mentors. Sign up to be a once-a-week or twice-a-month lunch buddy with a student at Buchanan Elementary School. Spend the lunch period (20 minutes) with a student who is assigned specifically to you and build a relationship.
  • Sponsor library books at Buchanan Elementary School

Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Reading/Study Buddy at Fairmount Pines
  • Family Activities at Fairmount Pines
  • Reading Night at Buchanan Elementary School
  • Starting a “mini-library” or “little-free-library” at Fairmount Pines

There are fliers on the whiteboards with more statistics about reading and poverty in Iowa.

I look forward to partnering with the conference and continuing to further our mission work at Buchanan Elementary School and Fairmount Pines.