Medical students host event to improve child literacy with educational games

Volunteers wrote encouraging letters and flashcards for young students to combat illiteracy in Waco. Photo courtesy of Bears Medical Student Association

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

Bears Medical Student Association (BMSA) hosted Love Letters for Kids, a volunteer event to fight child illiteracy from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday on the Garden Level of Moody Memorial Library.

With 93 million of adults in the U.S. being able to read below the basic level to contribute successfully in society, people have called awareness for literacy issues. Statistics show that 34% of children entering kindergarten lack basic reading skills and 67% of fourth graders read below grade level. Of all the adults in the U.S., 43% are functionally illiterate.

To fight against child illiteracy, Love Letters for Kids — also known as Literacy for Children — was hosted by BMSA to create literacy kits for preschoolers in need. The handmade packets are composed of 26 alphabetical ordered flashcards, notes from the volunteers and lists of educational games to play at home, according to their website.

San Antonio junior Isha Khushal, BMSA committee member, said Love Letters for Children allows volunteers to incorporate reading into students’ and children’s lives to help children to know the alphabet and learn vocabulary.

“I’ve been hosting it for about a semester and a half,” Khushal said. “Seeing the amount of people that come in the event and really want to contribute makes it all worthwhile because I know how many lives it will honestly impact in the future.”

Khushal said the name for the event comes from an organization called Love Letters for Literacy, which she worked with to mail and pass out flashcards for kids to know what letters look like and how to form words with them.

“These kids, because of COVID-19, they don’t have resources or money to go into the normal school system,” Khushal said. “Even like a small little packet of flashcards could help them, because they don’t have access to the resources that we have today.”

Tomball sophomore Isha Chaudary said she enjoyed volunteering at the event because it is a great and simple way to help the community and impacting so many children’s lives.

“I enjoyed writing the personal note at the end. Knowing my words could help a child learn to read is amazing,” Chaudary said. “This event gives children the opportunity to learn and allows volunteers to connect with and aid them in their personal growth.”

Khushal said although their service only includes 26 flashcards, decorations and brief notes from volunteers, it motivates the children and helps them in the community.

“If you can do anything in your power to just help someone in need or help your community, take full responsibility, go out, volunteer in your community,” Khushal said. “You never know how much your small hour of service can change someone else’s life.”