Reverend Clint Twedt-Ball is a member of a Cedar Rapids-based task force which is rolling out the initiative called Change a Child’s Story.
“The Poverty to Opportunity task force was looking at what we could do that would start to move the needle on giving kids that are low-income opportunities here in Iowa,” Reverend Twedt-Ball says. “We looked at lots of different issues and decided that reading really holds a huge key to success for kids, so that’s where we’re focused.”
The goal of the program is to donate one-million books and one-million hours of time toward helping children who have trouble reading.
“Kids that are low-income are really struggling to be able to read,” he says. “By 4th grade, a lot of them are behind by a grade level or more. We in Iowa are just not able to help them catch up.”
A study in 2012 found roughly one in four Iowa 4th graders scored below the proficient level on the state reading test. Twedt-Ball says reading is important for Iowa’s young children and their future.
“Studies have shown correlations between a lack of reading success and a lack of income or a higher incarceration rate, lots of ways in which it holds kids back,” he says. “We believe every kid is talented and gifted and we want to help them all have a shot at success.”
Nearly 20% of Iowa’s United Methodist churches have already committed to the effort and more than 1,000 books have been collected so far.
Learn more about the project at Iowa United Methodist Church website: www.iaumc.org.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City