Laurel Library and Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware Block Party promotes ‘Read and Feed’
By Tony E. Windsor
The Laurel Public Library is having a party! For a third year, the library will host the annual “Block Party,” which according to Youth Services Librarian, Gail Bruce, promises to be the biggest yet. Bruce said there are 20 area non-profits working with the library to ensure plenty of recreational and educational fun for the entire family.
This year’s event will spotlight two of the Laurel Library’s community partnership projects that support the area’s youth. In a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, the library participates in the year around nutrition programs Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food (CACFP) program.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, a sponsor of the food programs provides the library with after-school dinners and summer time lunches to benefit the young people who visit the library. Funding for the meals comes from the United States Department of Agriculture and the nutrition programs are coordinated through the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Nutrition.
Another program being offered by the Laurel Library through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware is a summer Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) literacy program.
RIF is a national program with a mission to lessen learning loss during the summer months by enhancing oral reading fluency and reading comprehension. In the past four years the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware has provided the program to 23,393 youth participants statewide who have received 15,000 age-appropriate book offerings.
The participants in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware RIF program have demonstrated an 84% improvement in oral ready fluency and an 85% improvement in reading comprehension. The Laurel Library is combining the after-school and summer meals program with Reading IS Fundamental in a library program called “Read and Feed.”
Gail Bruce said this year’s Block Party will help promote the “Read and Feed” program and also provide opportunities for the community to have access to a number of area non-profit direct service organizations. “The Block Party allows us to engage with our community while providing them with resources from our local non-profits, such as health screenings, voter registration, and other agencies. We have approximately 20 non-profit organizations who are partnering with us on this event and also businesses such as Food Lion and Wawa who have provided tremendous support through contributions,” she said.
The area surrounding the library, including East 4th Street in front of the Library, the library’s parking lot, Market Square Park and East Market Street between Central and Delaware avenues will all be blocked off to accommodate the Library’s Block Party.
Bruce said the Laurel Library’s “Teen Ambassadors,” program will be busy helping before, during and after the event. She said with the help of the Dollar General Literacy Fund and the Young Adult Library Services Association the library is able to offer teen internships to a group of teens to support their participation in the library’s summer program. “Our Teen Ambassadors will be volunteering for this event by helping to set up and break down and to run our registration areas as well as several activities. They are also an integral part of our Read & Feed Program, helping to run our programs, and serve meals and snacks,” Bruce said.
The Public Library Association’s “Inclusive Internship Initiative is also working to support the teens through a special summer teen project.
The Block Party event will include a variety of games and activities including a watermelon eating contest at noon featuring local dignitaries and citizens. There will be entertainment provided by students from Laurel High School and “DJ Randy P” will provide music. Also on hand will be the USDA Nutrition mascot “Power Panther,” who will be representing the SFSP and CACFP nutrition programs. Food will be provided by Catering Connections, the vendor contracted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware to provide meals for its sites for both the SFSP and CACFP nutrition programs.
Free health screenings will be available and the COPE Van and Sussex Bookmobile will be on site. In Market Square Park vendors with products for sale as well as non-profits providing information about community services will be on hand. There will be opportunity for adults and youth to sign up for the Summer Reading Program with a theme of “Libraries Rock.”
Bruce said Block Party attendees will also have the opportunity to be registered for a bike giveaway to be held at 12:45 p.m. the day of the Block Party. One child’s bike and one adult’s bike will be given away and include helmets, locks and knee and elbow pads.
Bruce said she encourages all event attendees to get a “stamp card” to allow them to be registered for the bike drawings. “Every vendor and non-profit will have a stamp and when someone visits their table or activity, they can get their card stamped,” she said. “If they get 12 stamps on their card, they turn their card in for the grand prize drawing,” she said.
The Laurel Library’s Block Party will be held rain or shine. Should there be inclement weather the event will be moved inside the library building.