Annual Read-a-thon aims to inspire young readers, newcomers

Students as young as two years old had the chance to read to some of Manitoba’s litigators Saturday, as part of an annual event aimed at inspiring a passion for literacy.

The 14th annual Read-a-thon organized by the Law Society of Manitoba and West Broadway Youth Outreach saw around 70 lawyers volunteer with young readers eager to share stories from their picture books and novels.

“The kids are phenomenal,” said Law Society CEO Leah Kosokowsky. “You can see them coming from all walks of life, you can see their passion for reading, you can see how much they want to learn.”

Organizers said the event also helped inspire the participating legal professionals.

“The lawyers are learning just how valuable they are as a support system,” said West Broadway Youth Outreach executive director Ken Opaleke. “Without them, many of our kids may not be here, may not embrace literacy to the level that they are right now.”

Opaleke added that motivation from litigation could help spark new interests or passions when it comes to reading.

“All of a sudden, someone is giving up their valuable time and saying, ‘You are amazing. You are a rock star, you can read and you can go on to levels unknown to you before,’” he said.

The Read-a-thon also saw newcomer children from Ukraine and Nigeria who participated in the event as a way to improve their English language skills and connect with others in the community.

“They’re all from different schools of every corner of the city,” Opaleke said. “We put something on this fun, who’s not going to want to come?”

The event collected donations to support West Broadway Youth Outreach’s programming and membership. Those interested in donating after the event are encouraged to visit the organization’s website.

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