Like many Americans, this summer I watched documentaries and other news reports about the Apollo 11 moon landing –clearly, one of the greatest accomplishments of my lifetime. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic event, I wonder what is next?
Exploring and conquering space became an objective Americans determined to achieve. As always, Americans had a need to be the first. We had the desire to be the best. We also understood that being the best allows everyone to benefit.
Fifty years later, it is time to look for another challenge. Another “possibility” that can make us the best. In Charlotte, one of those challenges is literacy. There are children in our community who can not read as they should be able. There is a book desert in and around our beautiful city that has attracted two national political conventions, where skyscrapers rise above the horizon and where athletes are paid millions of dollars. To borrow from the astronauts, “Charlotte, we have a problem.”
Every day, teachers guide children; but like the moon shot, they need the help of everyone in the community. In the decade leading to the moon landing it was the efforts of many Americans working together that resulted in success of that audacious goal. Some worked building the spacecraft, some in NASA creating the science, astronauts trained to take the journey and citizens everywhere supporting the effort financially and through prayers and encouragement. One of us took a small step and the rest of us leaped forward. We affirmed that all things are possible, if we all do our part. We changed the lives of a generation.
WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON
In 1961, President Kennedy selected his words carefully. “We CHOOSE to go to the moon.” His fellow Americans chose to go with him. Now we too have a choice. Today, our organization, Be There Dad declares that we choose to be a part of the solution. We choose to make improving literacy and increasing accessibility to books in Charlotte a priority.
Be There Dad chooses to do our part for the obvious reasons. If we expect our children to succeed and be economically mobile, we must provide them with the tools to do so. Children must learn to read, so they can read to learn. Reading allows them to navigate their life journeys, and to fulfill their potentials.
When children can read it enhances their self-esteem. It gives them confidence and self worth. Reading opens their minds to be creative, to be innovative and to think like they have never done before. Reading enables children to dream.
Reading can expose children to worlds that are different from their own. Reading allows children to meet others of different backgrounds, from different places with different points of view. Reading can help children to understand and accept others.
Like the Saturn rocket, reading can be the vehicle that propels our children to new heights. The benefits of overcoming this challenge are enormous. Like the moon landing, success may change the future of a generation.
Eleanor Roosevelt is often credited with her challenge to “do one thing that scares you every day.”
Literacy in Charlotte is one thing that should frighten us every day.
We believe that dads can be a part of the solution. We want to be part of a community that helps children look to the skies and reach for their own stars. We know we can only be part of the solution, so Be There Dad will find folks to collaborate with. Promising Pages is a wonderful organization whose goal is to provide books to those who do not have them. The Hornets Foundation Book Bus energizes students to become better readers. The Public Library provides active reader training to enable adults.
Be There Dad has an army of men who can join these and other organizations. We will show our dads how to conduct book collection drives and support book fairs. We will encourage dads to read in classrooms and enable them to read more actively. We will encourage mentors to read as role models for those they mentor.
Please choose to join us on our journey. Throughout this school year, we will suggest ways to get engaged and provide resources to enable those who choose to face this challenge. Look for emails, go to our website and follow us on Facebook.
“We choose to go to the moon… because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, …” President Kennedy. “Literacy is a challenge we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” Be There Dad