Voters encouraged to read to pupils

AUSTINTOWN -- Township voters performing their civic duty on Tuesday will be asked to contribute in one more way: by reading a book to an underprivileged child.
Teachers at the Mahoning County Preschool Austintown Unit, located in the Wedgewood Park Evangelical Congregational Church, will recruit voters at the site to take a few minutes to read to pupils in the program for Head Start and disabled youngsters ages 3 to 5.
"We're trying to get the community involved. We're asking voters who have time to stay and read to a child," said Head Start teacher Donna Melanson. "I think it's important to get out to the community how important it is to get a child introduced to reading in a positive way, that it's a fun thing, not something they have to do."
Also teaching at the school is disability teacher Jeanne Smrek.
The church on South Meridian Road is a polling site.
Reading program: Melanson said the project is part of a Reading is Fundamental program supported by a U.S. Department of Education Inexpensive Book Distribution Program grant, matched by local funds.
Grant money was used to purchase picture/story books for the program. Each youngster will select a book to take home.
Melanson said this is the first read-to-me program at the preschool, which is part of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center's Early Childhood Department. She said the school plans to hold three per year, perhaps inviting other groups, such as police officers.
"We're trying to get the community into our building to read," she said.

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