What would have been the 4th annual Jog-a-Thon for Washington Elementary School has been turned into a new tradition given the pandemic. This year the School held the 1st Annual Read-a-Thon! The Read-a-Thon challenges kids who attend Washington Elementary, which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, to record how many minutes they are reading. Each day of the month of November, students could watch a video of a US Speedskating athlete or community members read a book to them!
Five of US Speedskating’s National Team Athletes participated to help keep the students engaged, and sharp with their reading skills in the month of November! Students watched books read by Olympic Medalist Brittany Bowe (Ocala, Fla.), Olympian Emery Lehman (Oak Park, Ill.), Ian Quinn (St. Louis, Mo.), Olympic Medalist Mia Manganello-Kilburg (Crestview, Fla.), Kimi Goetz (Flemington, N.J.), and Julie Letai (Medfield, Mass.) all sat down to read and record one of their favorite kids books.
Letai of the US Short Track National Team shared why she felt it was important to give back to the community. “I did it because since moving out to Utah and especially during COVID, I’ve started to really appreciate reading as a fulfilling way to pass the time. So if I can encourage the younger generation to continue reading even though there are so many other options to fill their time these days I think that‘s great.” Letai, who read the children's book Lucy Tries Short Track, by Lisa Bowes and James Hearne, also feels that it is important for kids to think of books as a form of entertainment. “I think it’s important because I think books are often overlooked as a form of entertainment or education. With technology and [the] internet there [are] so many different things you can watch or scroll through, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I think being exposed to this other option where you can have the chance to unplug is valuable to keep in mind too” explained Letai.
The first annual Read-a-Thon was a success after receiving an outpouring of support from people in the community who joined in to help out the Washington Elementary Students.