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|Celebrate with Ruth Ayres
Today I celebrate a vision, a dream, and an opportunity.
This week I had the opportunity to become part of a wonderful program, the Next Chapter Book Club. The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) was established in 2002 by the Ohio State University Nisonger Center. NCBC is a community literacy program for adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program provides them with opportunities to be part of a group activity and to build social connections within bookstores, coffee shops, and cafés. The book clubs consist of five to eight members with disabilities and two volunteer facilitators. There are over 100 book clubs in North America and Europe.
This week I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to be trained as a NCBC coordinator. I am now able to begin a book club and train volunteer facilitators here in my hometown.
I have had several people question why I wanted to do this. After much thought and seeing a book club in action, I have developed an answer, a mantra, a mission statement, a core belief, or whatever else you would like to call it.
I believe literacy experiences should have no boundaries or limits, whether it be age, poverty or a disability. It should be literacy for life - every life.
I love to read. I love to share my reading with anyone who will listen. Many of us have participated in some type of book club. It is a social experience. As a teacher, I am fortunate to share books with my students. As an adult, I share books with family and friends and through social media. I am able to use Twitter and my blog as a way to share my passion with others. Why shouldn't everyone have this opportunity?
I shared a little about my dream in this post and here. Today I am giving you another glimpse into my dream. I want to create an organization which promotes and provides literacy experiences within my community. When I read about NCBC on Jaana's Writing Blog, I knew this fit within my dream, so I went after it.
After seeing this book club in action, I felt it. That tug at my heart. That tug which told me I was doing the right thing. That this was meant to be part of my dream.
Watching these members read, laugh, make connections, and grow socially was an amazing experience. They meet at a local Barnes and Noble and read literature which ranges from adapted classics to contemporary fiction to newspapers. The day I observed, they were reading a short story about having a bad hair day - something in which we can all relate.
I left that day with many questions. Why shouldn't people with disabilities have this opportunity to share a reading experience? Why shouldn't they be able to make connections with a character? Why shouldn't they be able to laugh with friends?
This was truly an amazing experience, an experience worth celebrating.
I will continue to share the beginning of our new NCBC here on my blog. If you are interested in information about starting a NCBC in your community, click here to go to their website.