Friday, June 17, 2016

Athena Program Reaches Teen Moms

Summer truly feels like it's begun at Reader to Reader when we have our annual Athena Interactive Literacy Program, which connects teen mothers from Holyoke's Care Center with community partners to foster empowerment in different areas of their lives. During the year moms work towards their GED at the Care Center, an alternative education program which seeks to "help them grasp how powerful they are, give them the tools to learn and provide them with an exciting and engaging learning environment." These sentiments echo Reader to Reader's own attitudes in our global literacy efforts, and now in its seventh year, Athena is a weeklong program that builds skills to help these young families thrive and learn.

Nutritional literacy is a major component of Athena. Local chef Bill Collins kicks off mornings with breakfast and wraps up afternoons with lunch. Each meal is accompanied with discussions centered around grocery shopping on a budget, balancing the demands of preparing a meal with young children around, simple and quick but nutritious meals, and various cooking tips, tricks, and stories. The moms even get to try their hand at food prep and cooking throughout the week!

Between meals, a range of activities give the moms a chance to express their voices. One of our college interns led a spoken word poetry workshop and later in the week, we took a trip to Northfire Recording Studio for a recording session. This year's selection of poetry include themes of family, love, and motherhood. 

The week's other project, board book making, was filled with laughter, casual discussions, crafting fun, and sweetest of all, sharing baby and toddler photos.

In addition to exploring their creativity, the moms explored financial literacy with Florence Bank and children's book and writing for different audiences with Phantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster. 

It was a week of learning for all involved: the moms themselves, Reader to Reader staff and interns, and the community partners who so generously shared their time and knowledge with us. Fittingly, we closed the week out with a celebration at the Care Center which allowed other Center students and staff a glimpse of what we were up to all week. 

We are so grateful to have been able to spend Athena week with participating moms and we will continue to cheer them on in their aspirations!

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