March 10, 2014
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MADISON, Wis. -- If you would’ve stepped foot into a Madison elementary school classroom on March 2, there’s a good chance you would’ve found a UW student-athlete reading to students.
That’s because 45 Badgers student-athletes helped celebrate Read Across America Day by reading books and fielding questions from students at 10 schools across Dane County. The appearances kicked off a campaign that spanned two weeks and helped promote literacy in the community.
UW men’s golfer Thomas O'Bryan said making appearances is a great way to help the community and teach kids the importance of reading.
“As an athlete we have a wonderful opportunity to help and encourage the community around us,” O’Bryan said. “At the end of the day, helping kids and potentially changing someone’s life is more rewarding than any athletic accomplishment.”
Student-athletes representing nine UW sports read from Dr. Suess books as well as Bucky books. Many of the schools visited on Monday are also involved in Badgers Give Back’s broader ‘Bookin’ it with Bucky’ initiative, which matches student-athletes with fourth-grade programs as they attempt to reach a reading goal.
The program has resulted in a strong relationship between Badgers and 25 classrooms across Dane County.
“The students now have a connection to a Badger athlete,” Stoner Prairie Elementary School teacher Jodi Moll said. “It’s something they’ll remember years down the road.”
Cross country runner Taylor Zimprich said it’s important to promote literacy because kids look up to her and her fellow student-athletes. Plus, the students’ joy is often reciprocated.
“I always have just as much fun as the kids,” Zimprich said. “It’s always great to know that you’ve brightened their day simply by reading a book to them.”
These literacy efforts will also continue with the annual Wisconsin Football Spring Game, taking place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, at Camp Randall Stadium. Ticket sale proceeds will benefit the UW School of Education to help its literacy promotion efforts. Tickets can be purchased for $5 online at UWBadgers.com, by calling 1-800-GO-BADGERS or in person by visiting the Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office.
Fans can follow the Badgers’ ongoing literacy promotion campaign by following @UWBadgers and #BadgersGiveBack.