Read Up Indy looking for volunteer mentors as program continues to grow

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Read Up Indy is looking for more volunteer mentors for its metro-wide program.

One of the program’s coordinators, Holly Frye, says more and more students are looking for help but that Read Up Indy doesn’t have enough volunteers to pair with them. The program teaches kids to read and comprehend.

CBS4 met with veteran volunteer David Reddick at Newby Memorial Elementary School. Reddick said he visits the school twice a week for an hour, reading with the third graders and helping them to understand the words, phrases and concepts.

“We have them read a couple paragraphs and then we’ll stop them and ask what they read,” he explained. “As a youngster myself, at their age, I wasn’t a particularly good reader so it’s a personal thing for me.”

That Tuesday morning, Reddick read with third-grader Edmond. We watched as the pair worked.

“Do you know what that means?” Reddick asked.

“No,” Edmond told him.

“That’s when you make a strange face with your eyebrows,” Reddick explained. “Can you do that?”

Edmond made a silly face. Reddick nodded and laughed.

“Perfect!” he said.

After about a half hour of reading a book about soccer, Edmond was ready for breakfast.

“It will help you improve your levels and it helps you get better with reading,” he told CBS4.

“When you get done with your reading, you get out a notebook and you write what you read about,” Edmond’s brother, William, said.

William said he’s noticed a difference from when he started the program.

“It becomes really important now with state testing that goes on,” Reddick continued. “Students can be held back if their reading levels aren’t good and I hate to see that happen.”

Reddick has been volunteering since Read Up Indy began four years ago. He said helping others makes him feel like more of a grandparent, now that his grandchildren are grown.

“Tutoring is not something where you have to have advanced college degrees or anything, just a love of reading yourself,” he said, encouraging others to get involved. “It has been really rewarding and I think that’s why I keep coming back.”

Frye said Read Up Indy has consistently been growing. Most recently, they expanded the program to Neil A. Armstrong Elementary School in Mooresville. The program is available metro-wide, though, in 42 different districts including Indianapolis Public Schools and the surrounding areas. About 700 kids are signed up and participating, but more are waiting to be paired with someone.

“There are always more children we could put into the program if we had more mentors join in,” Frye said.

Parents can register their children for free by talking to their teacher or school principal. If someone would like to volunteer, the United Way of Central Indiana has a website and tab at the top right of their page to “get involved.”