KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ON – June 25, 2010…Young children who don’t learn to read with their peers, often fall behind in schoolwork and social development.
In 2004, Atria Networks initiated a relationship with Strong Start®, an innovative community project launched in 2001 to help young children learn to read. This charitable organization exemplifies the saying ‘It takes a community to raise a child’ by involving caring volunteers.
Atria Networks is a company focused on connecting communities in Southern Ontario through one of province’s largest fibre-optic networks – and through a corporate philosophy that includes support for the charities and non-profit organizations that keep those communities vibrant.
“Many of our clients are school boards,” says Atria CEO John Piercy, “so it’s a natural fit. We sponsor many charities in the communities served by our fibre-optic network, and Strong Start is making a big difference in the lives of children in the Waterloo Region and surrounding areas. They rely totally on financial donations for funding, and we are proud to play a role in the wonderful work they’re doing, particularly in helping to fund their future endeavours.”
“Literacy skills are the strongest indicator of a child’s future success in life,” says Strong Start’s Executive Director and school teacher, Machelle Denison. “We have a special relationship with Atria Networks, and it’s wonderful to see a business giving back directly to the clients and communities they serve. The work we do has a long and lasting effect on children’s lives.”
Strong Start facilitates several programs aimed at specific age groups: three-and-a-half-year-old preschoolers, five to seven years, seven to nine years and even a Baby Literacy Collaborative that helps parents learn ways to stimulate emerging literacy through songs, rhymes and reading. According to Grade One teacher Anne Thaler of Grandview Public School in New Hamburg, “The Strong Start program …has been a vital part of the support I have offered my students for the past five years …it reaches them early, at the optimal time.”
The programs are implemented by trained volunteers who report that the experience is as invigorating for them as it is for the children.
“The content of this program is innovative and it absolutely empowers the children to learn to read,” says volunteer coach Penny Frim. “I never imagined that I could make such a difference in a child’s life, sometimes while devoting as little as 30 minutes each week.”
Strong Start was co-founded by a former teacher, principal and special education consultant, Linda Sylvester, with vision and funding from businessperson and philanthropist – the late Lyle S. Hallman. His vision was that the community would rally around the children and keep the programs going, which is exactly what’s happening through supporters like Atria Networks.
“We are responding to requests for Strong Start from other communities in Ontario,” Denison adds, “and we want to expand on the programs we offer. That will take more volunteers and additional financial support.”
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