Several Delaware libraries were awarded grants for their service to their communities.

Congratulations to the Frankford Public Library!

The Frankford Public Library was awarded $500.00 for their proposal; Family Literacy Summer Camp.  The project will provide weekly activities to help adult participants learn how to speak English and grow their reading skills, while the children will have a fun activity separate from the adults.  The adults and children will come together for the last 30-45 minutes of the program to do a combined activity related to the weekly topic.  The program fosters family fun, encourages library usage and introduces Literacy Delaware programs to another population.

We talked with Dale Ashera-Davis; Literacy Delaware Sussex County Coordinator, and Heather Bernat; Associate Director at Frankford, and asked them what was the inspiration behind this idea.  Both organizations have aligned missions in encouraging library use, engaging community resources, and relating to the needs of the young families.  According to Dale, Literacy Delaware is moving towards a family model.  They want to be able to communicate and connect with the children.  In looking at what was stopping individuals from accessing help, it was clear that children need to be involved in the process with their parents.  The Frankford Library is more than happy to help.  Frankford is a small library, but that works to their benefit for this program says Heather.  The small space is family friendly, and promotes a positive way to help adults and families work on their English skills for their kids.

In talking with these ladies, it was evident the strong bonds of partnership these two organizations have.  “Building stronger individuals, stronger families, and a stronger community; that’s how this project embodies community engagement” says Heather.  This is the second year the family literacy summer camp will run.  Literacy Delaware will administer pre and post assessment of English use by the participants.  Dale and Heather will take ideas from last year and tweak and add some new elements.  Each year is a learning process, but they are committed to helping their community together.

Congratulations to the Laurel Public Library!

The Laurel Public Library was awarded $500.00 for their proposal; Dementia 101.  The project is a two-part program.  In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, the library will hold a program on Dementia and Alzheimer’s awareness where patrons will learn the warning signs, and support resources.  The second aspect of the program will be a sensory/fidget blanket making workshop.  Everyone who attends would be able to make a blanket for a loved one battling this condition, or donate the blanket to someone in need.  The library has sewing machines and can provide hands-on help.  They are looking to host the program in the fall, possibly to coincide with Dementia awareness month.

The inspiration for this program is personal, as staff at the Laurel library have family members dealing with it, but the program also fits into their You’re Valued initiative.  In 2016 the library changed their focus and started asking what they could do for the community.  According to Wenona Phillips; Assistant Director and Head of Circulation, Laurel has “a desire to help meet needs and help get our patrons connected to vital resources.  We want to inspire hope that resources are out there and they’re not alone”.  Information from a Sussex County Health Coalition meeting revealed that over 19,000 Delawareans suffer from this condition and Sussex County has the fastest growing population of seniors.  Laurel is utilizing their partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association to assist with the informational programming, and their partnerships with the Laurel Senior Center and Laurel Commons Retirement Community for helping to get the word out to the community at large.

Congratulations to the University of Delaware Education Resource Center!

The University of Delaware Education Resource Center was awarded $500.00 for their proposal, Read Aloud and Puppetry: Practical Interventions for High Needs Schools.  The project is looking to provide diverse puppets and social emotional resources to incorporate into the curriculum provided at the Education Resource Center (ERC), and is based on social trauma care and interventions to help trauma survivors in Delaware’s high needs schools.  The objective is for teacher candidates to introduce social emotional vocabulary, ask open ended questions, and have students engage.  Puppetry is an inclusive way to help K-5 students externalize feelings through storytelling and help to build language skills; especially essential to English as a second language (ESL) students to help break down language barriers and increase class participation.  The project will outreach to University of Delaware teacher candidates, local K-12 school districts and University of Delaware faculty.

Ameerah Stafford, head librarian in charge of the ERC, is very grateful for the opportunity to start this project.  When asked why this project embodies community engagement, she said “…puppets can bring story time to life”.  They can show relationships, friendships; they serve so many multi-modal ways to teach with purpose that’s engaging with the students.  She also highlighted that this project aligns with Executive Order 24 that Governor John Carney implemented in 2018, making Delaware a trauma-informed state.  The negative effects of trauma can lead to disruptive classroom behavior, school delinquency, self-harm, and risky health behaviors.  The ERC can disrupt these ripple effects by serving as a centralized location for trauma informed resources and a training space for teacher candidates.  Ameerah’s goal is “To support and empower future educators with ERC resources and services to make better educators”.

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