Brett Bayard, of the Kiwanis Club of Lafayette, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss the Rewards for Reading Program in Lafayette LA. The mission of all Kiwanis clubs is to make the lives of children better.
Kiwanis partnered with the Lafayette Parish Public School System and 24 of its Elementary Schools to launch the Reading for Rewards Program. The goal is to inspire and excite our youngest students to read so that they can learn to love reading, thus do better in school and build a lifelong habit of reading.
Kickstarted by a $2500 grant from Home Bank, $1,000 from Postlethwaite & Netterville CPA’s, and a great deal of financial assistance from Kiwanis members, the program has gotten off to a successful start.
Students earn points by participating in the school system’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program to become eligible for prizes. They earn one raffle ticket every nine weeks as they meet their AR goal, which goal is individualized and based upon each student’s reading level. Students can earn further raffle tickets by exceeding their goals.
Prizes will be awarded in person at the elementary schools throughout May 2021, beginning May 12th at Ernest Gallet Elementary. Prizes being awarded by Kiwanis members at each school include two bikes, four Razer scooters, and various goodie bags being provided by UL-Lafayette, Cox, Lafayette Parish library, and more. This is the first year of Reading for Rewards and the Kiwanis Club of Lafayette plans to build upon the program and continue encouraging our youngest to read.
Rewards for Reading was inspired by a similar program created in 2006 by the Dawn Busters Kiwanis in Metairie, LA. Their program has grown tremendously since its early days and the club has seen how the rewards offered to young students have directly and positively improved educational outcomes.
Studies show that children who cannot read on grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Third grade is a crucial time in a child’s education as students transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. It is in our community’s best interest to support programs such as Rewards for Reading and we thank Kiwanis Club of Lafayette for launching this program.
Our interview included heartwarming stories, including how hard it has been to find enough bikes in retail stores to meet the needs for Rewards for Reading prizes. Brett recalled how he and other Kiwanis members went from store to store, buying one bike at a time at first as the stores experienced a shortage of bikes; the COVID shutdown turned bikes into a precious commodity and for a time, almost impossible to find.
Anecdotal evidence of the popularity and early success of the Reading for Rewards program in our Lafayette public elementary schools continues to mount. Members have heard stories of kids reading books as fast as they can get their hands on them; one student even gave up his video game time to read more books! Another anecdote was of a five-year-old who is reading more than his high school-age siblings.
Kiwanis members speak of “Kiwanis Moments” when they realize the joy they experience by helping children through their clubs’ activities. Kiwanis programs involving interaction with local students include Shaping Academic Resources for Kids (“SPARK”), Positive Lifestyle Activity for Youth (“PLAY”), the Healthy Living Club. Brett shared that his own meaningful Kiwanis Moment occurred when he took a young student shopping for Christmas gifts as a part of the Kiwanis annual Christmas giving program. The young girl said that was the first time in her life that she had been given an opportunity to get new clothes as she always had just gotten hand-me-downs or whatever was laying around. May we all realize that we can make a difference in others’ lives and experience our own transformational “Kiwanis Moment.”
Brett Bayard has a professional life outside of Kiwanis. He holds professional engineering certifications in Mechanical and Civil Engineering and is a registered Professional Land Surveyor. He specializes in solid waste disposal and collection, wastewater collection, historic weather analysis, and transportation. He was the engineer and surveyor for the Moncus Park Phase I project.
Kiwanis Club of Lafayette meets each Tuesday at noon at the Petroleum Club. They always welcome new members and invite interested people to attend a few meetings to make sure it is a good fit. To learn more about Kiwanis, visit https://www.lafayettekiwanis.org.