At the Highgate Apartments in Barre, VT the quiet of a recent Saturday morning ended abruptly as the unmistakable roar of a race car engine announced to all children within earshot it was time to meet Thunder Road driver Troy Kingsbury, check out his awesome car, and get some cool new books to read.
Highgate is a family low-income apartment complex. CLiF has just begun a one-year partnership with Highgate, its families, and the 100+ children children who live there. Over the next year CLiF will return to Highgate many times with a range of inspiring literacy-related activities, and hundreds of new books from which the children will select their own small personal library.
Troy Kingsbury’s arrival with his race car #39 (a.k.a. The Green Hornet) was an exciting event for many of the kids who crowded around the sleek, stripped down vehicle. Troy described to the attentive young audience his powerful engine, and tools of the trade ranging from roll bars, a flame retardant suit, and the tractor battery that starts the car (it’s lighter than a car battery).
Troy also explained that possibly the most important skill needed for someone to be a successful race car driver… is the ability to read and write. He frequently needs to read safety manuals and repair guides, write applications to seek sponsorships, and much more.
This unexpected message is part of Troy’s Race to Read project (www.racetoread.org), and it makes him the perfect partner for CLiF. CLiF’s toughest customers are typically boys from 9- to 12-years-old. Many of them don’t find reading cool, but they LOVE motor sports. The idea that reading and writing are critical for success in all areas of life carries a lot more weight when it comes from a race car driver.
When Troy finished giving the children a tour of his car everyone went inside the Community Room where Highgate Coordinator Doug Hemmings had organized tables, balloons, and a full lunch from a nearby grill. CLiF Program Coordinator Julia Rogers had displayed hundreds of beautiful new titles on some of the tables.
Julia and Troy gave an entertaining presentation to the assembled children and their parents about the power and joy of reading, and they highlighted many of the books looking for new homes. Julia also showed off the $2,000 in new, hardcover books that CLiF had donated to Highgate to create an on-site library for all families to use for years to come.
And last but not least, each child was able to come up and select any two new books of their choice to keep as the beginning of their own personal home library. As CLiF departed the children were digging into the hot burgers and the cool books with equal relish. It was quite the feast!