The Gladys Project to hold benefit Saturday

Published 6:24 am Friday, October 5, 2018

This Saturday, a “Reading Round Up” will be held in downtown Danville in the hopes of building reading awareness. The Gladys Project, a non-profit organization working to bridge the learning gap for children, will host the event in Weisiger Park, just outside the courthouse.

The project’s executive director, Amy Trisler Adkins, says although the entire event is free to families, monetary donations will be accepted to benefit its mission.

Centre College’s Greek organizations will be on hand helping out, and several booths will offer up reading activities, focused on children through age 10. Greek Life actually will be setting up the booths for the project, as the event will be a service project for fraternities and sororities.

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“We will have booths set up, and from what we understand, each booth will have a book scene set up and a game to go along with it,” in order to get kids to interact, Adkins says.

There will be a story time, as well, where kids can listen in, and four booths will have an activity associated with the story. Some carnival games will be included, too, as well as activities such as a puppet show and craft stations.

“We really want to build reading awareness, and it’s the first time we’ve done anything like this. The target is kids up through fifth grade,” Adkins says.

The Gladys Project works to remove educational barriers, so that each and every child is ready to start kindergarten. Developed in 2014, the project provides help to families free of charge.

Elaine Wilson-Reddy, who began the project, previously said she did so because of a stint she did as a substitute teacher, and was shocked that some kids could write their names in cursive, while others didn’t have the skillset yet to even hold a pencil.

That thought stuck with her, and was reinforced when she volunteered for a local reading camp, so she began researching a way to help. Wilson-Reddy found that all learning begins at birth, and most brain connections are already made by 3 years old.

“If children didn’t have a strong adult reading presence in their home, they would become the children who couldn’t hold a pencil or read well,” Wilson-Reddy said. She discovered that the lack of access to preschool was definitely a key.

The Gladys Project’s biggest funder is the Heart of Kentucky United Way, and it is donated office and lesson space by the Housing Authority, on Crescent Drive. A family member participates in the lessons with their children, and volunteers with the project donate at least an hour of their time a week to lead the lessons. The aim is that adults continue the learning process at home with their children.

The project also has a partnership with the Boyle County Public Library, and the Bookmobile comes at 3:15 p.m. to its offices every second and fourth Thursday of the month. A library employee not only reads to the kids and helps them pick and check out books, but holds a song time with them.

Families who participate in the project also get a new book to take home after every fourth session, also for free.

“We don’t ask any financial questions for anyone to come. If you want to bring your child here, we will take them … We want to show them the importance of reading,” Susie Allen says, who is president of the board. She says it’s not just an educational tool for the kids, it’s for the parents, too. They are asked to take the information home they learn from the sessions to try and integrate into their family’s life.

“We try to make it easy for parents. We send them home with things to work on, so we make them responsible for the learning material too. They are asked to go home and either do something similar, or just to read to them,” Adkins says.

Children are given an assessment to see where they stand before starting the program, and are never left alone with a volunteer. A parent and either Adkins or a board member are always on-hand. They work with children from birth to 5.


The Gladys Project, a non-profit early childhood learning center, will host a Reading Round Up 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Weisiger Park in downtown Danville. The rain location will be inside of Combs Warehouse at Centre College. The event is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the project’s mission. For more information about the event or the project, call (859) 209-1618, email or check them out on Facebook.