Illustration by Jasmine Geyer
The Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties will soon expand its programming options to include more services for children, teens and families as part of its commitment to support education in the Texarkana area.
Executive Director Jenny Walker said the Literacy Council looks forward to the new initiatives.
“In recent years, most of our programming has been centered around adult learners,” Walker said. “While we certainly want to continue providing wonderful options for adults in our area, I have always had a desire to get a youth program started. There are a lot of kids who are not interested in sports, and I want to be sure we have fun community-based options for those young people as well.”
Two of the new programs—K-Kids for elementary-aged children and Builder’s Club for middle school students—come from a partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Texarkana. These clubs will meet on Monday evenings and will give young people the opportunity to build leadership and community service skills while also learning. K-Kids will meet on the first and third Monday, and Builder’s Club will meet on the second and fourth Monday each month. Students in the clubs will elect officers, lead meetings, and they will plan and execute service projects in the Texarkana area.
“K-Kids and Builder’s Club are great ways to instill a love of service in our young people,” Walker said. “They may have small bodies, but they can make a big impact on our community. I am really excited to see what kind of projects our kids come up with this year.”
The Literacy Council also has a growing after-school program for high school students. On Mondays, teens can take a free ACT and College Preparation class at the Literacy Council, and on Thursdays, high school students can participate in a class called Life Lessons, where the Council works to bring in community partners to teach important fundamental skills necessary for these young men and women entering adulthood. Curriculum for this class includes instruction on changing flat tires, writing thank you notes, and basic budgeting and banking, among other essentials.
“I used to work as a high school teacher,” Walker said. “There are so many things that these students need to know about life, but I know schools simply cannot cover these skills because of the demands of state-mandated curriculum. We designed this program as a way to help high school students gather some of the knowledge and skills they need to have in their tool belt as they leave high school.”
The Literacy Council is also working to help parents in the area with family literacy initiatives.
“We are thrilled to help support parents who need advice with education issues in the home,” Walker said. “We know that some parents are so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to begin to help their children who struggle academically, and this is especially true for parents who are not confident in their own academic skills.”
Walker said that’s where the Literacy Council can provide assistance. Parents can call the Council for an appointment to get advice on what resources might be available to help their children academically, to better manage homework and family calendars, and to improve communication with school districts and teachers when advocating for their children.
Additionally, the Council will soon roll out a program called the 100 Families Alliance that helps families in need of assistance by connecting them with existing resources in the community. The program, which the Literacy Council will launch in the spring, is designed to help families move from crisis to career.
“We know the importance of educating the whole student and also the importance of educating the whole family,” Walker said. “We will meet families exactly where they are, and our team will work to help them gain stability and move the entire family unit forward.”
The 100 Families Alliance will not only help men and women who need extra support as they learn to best provide for themselves and their families, but it also aims to serve the children in those families who also may need additional support while their parents get on their feet.
“We have seen this program work in other communities, and I cannot wait to bring it here,” Walker said. “We know this is going to be a program that is life-changing for so many in Texarkana.”