By Tiffany Feng
Assistant Business Manager
The expression, actions speak louder than words defines the work that sisters and Mira Costa juniors Keeley and Hannah Parker have done in creating a mentorship program to help tutor young children in writing.
Keeley and Hannah Parker started The Children’s Reading and Literacy mentorship program over summer of 2016 that occurs weekly at the Richstone Family Center in the city of Hawthorne, California. They are working to teach the children the vital elements of writing and in addition, also helping each individual to write and publish their own novel.
“My own love of reading and my combined love for kids made me want to start this program,” Hannah said. “I’ve grown up reading books and I don’t want any economic situation to stop any other kid from having that experience.”
Richstone Family Center is a non-profit social services agency that was created in the 1970s with the goal of preventing and treating child abuse and trauma, educating families and reducing violence in families, schools and providing lesson plans for the children. Through this they received a date and time for the lessons and thus the creation of the program.
“We choose richstone because of their good reputation with working with kids,” Hannah said. “However, it feels more like they choose us because they are already such an amazing program and I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of it.”
During each lesson the sisters discuss with the children literacy goals, analyze pieces of writing and selected readings, and then also help them write about these subjects. In addition to providing this service to the children, the sisters are also helping to produce and publish a novel with the children.
“A lot of our lessons focus on social wellness,” Keeley said. “I hope through those we were able to teach them positive life strategies and how to work on a long term project such as the novel.”
The creation of the novel will involve working with the Amazon owned company, CreateSpace, a platform that allows authors to publish books, CDs and DVDs and still retain all of their content rights and sales profits. It helps to support publishers and independent authors by offering self-publishing services, on-demand printing, and online distribution.
“I believe creating the novel with them will help improve their work ethics and their sense of writing,” Keeley said. “This will give them something they can work hard on and then be proud later.”
The sisters hope to grow the program and continue it throughout their time at high school Hannah says. They hope to find an underclassman to continue it when they graduate. Until then, they plan to focus on growing the program, holding fundraiser and holding book drives.
“Working with the kids has changed me completely,” Hannah said. “Until you do something like this, you will have a hard time appreciating the education we receive in such wealthy and amazing districts such as MBUSD. We take our education for granted and it’s something we all should come to appreciate.”