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Jaguars celebrate reading

Jaguars players Akin Ayodele, Cortez Hankton, Matthew Hatchette, Matt Leonard, Seth Marler, Anthony Mitchell, Nick Sorensen and Maurice Williams joined 28 members of the Jaguars front office to celebrate the completion of the Jaguars Readers Program at Lola Culver Elementary School located on the north side of Jacksonville.

Jaguars staff members spent quality reading time over the past five months with three classrooms of students, including two second grade classes and one first grade class. Students sharpen their skills by reading with staff members to build their confidence with reading. Nearly 70 students participated in the program this year.

Since 1998, the Jacksonville Jaguars have spearheaded a reading initiative to assist and encourage grade school students to read at a more advanced level. The Jaguars "adopt" one school every two years to give necessary attention to students who need additional help in reading. Each student receives 20 to 30 minutes of individual mentoring and guidance. The Readers Program begins in early January when the students return from holiday break and concludes when the school year ends in May.

Rhonda Kirby-Charles, an executive assistant with the Jaguars who oversees the program states, "This is our seventh year and fourth school of the program and we have experienced tremendous success and results. By the end of the program, their reading skills have greatly improved. Their confidence sky-rockets and those kinds of successes will encourage them to continue to read, which is our goal," she added.

The eight players, who were joined by members of the ROAR and team mascot Jaxson de Ville, encouraged the students to continue to read during the summer. The players and staff shared some laughs with the children, signed autographs, took a few pictures and enjoyed fruit punch and teal-colored frosted cupcakes.

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