TAMPA — Summer learning loss is an issue many school-aged children deal with between the end of the school year to the next. Watching TV, endless video games and too much screen time could mean that kids don’t crack open a book until they go back to school.
The Tampa Police Athletic League has decided to do something about that with a first of its kind program in Tampa called the Winning Reading Boost.
It’s a proven program that has worked in other areas but is just now getting a chance in Tampa.
Every weekday from 8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. in the summer, more than 20 elementary school children are putting the fun back in fundamental reading and writing skills.
A few Hillsborough County teachers and a handful of Tampa Police officers help lead the way in this nine-week program. The program is free for the children who attend, thanks to funding from AT&T’s volunteer organization, AT&T Pioneers, and child advocate non-profit, the Yob Family Foundation.
One of the Tampa Police officers helping is a 16-year veteran on the force, Master Patrol Officer Michael Gambrell.
"Everything compliments itself,” said Officer Gambrell. “The workbooks with the songs, the songs with the vowels. It’s amazing. The proof is in the pudding. Some of these kids came to us reading and writing under their grade level. In just the first week they are excelling."
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan visited the kids at the program to see how the first week went.
“We are a society these days where people are always on their phones and video games,” said Chief Dugan to the kids. “No one reads and writes as much anymore. That’s why coming here is so important and continuing to learn is so important."
It’s not only classroom time; the kids get to enjoy sports and other activities throughout the day.