When I first met Annie Walters she told me that Barnwell, S.C., was her heart. Annie grew up in Barnwell, and she plays a key role there and in four other communities in South Carolina as a Community Literacy Manager (CLM) for Save the Children (STC). It is her job to make connections across resources within the communities she serves to develop and embed a culture of literacy.
I visited Barnwell June 9th to get a head start on my Pulse assignment with STC. For three months, beginning June 27, I’ll be helping with change management for community-based literacy programs in South Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado. I wanted to see, on the ground, the work that Save the Children does. Annie was my host and guide for the day, and I could immediately see her passion for her work and for her community.
In Barnwell and other communities, housing authorities have become important partners in promoting literacy. They partner with STC to include literacy activities when they sponsor meals for children in housing complexes. My first introduction to the literacy work STC does was a lunch time reading of “Pete the Cat and His Magical Sunglasses” at an apartment complex in Barnwell. Pete was having a bad day and was given magic blue sunglasses so that he could “see things in a whole new way”.
Annie then took me to visit a Summer Boost program sponsored by STC at Macedonia Elementary School. The enrollment for the program is capped at 50 children and is targeted at those who would benefit from enrichment activities to prevent learning loss during the summer break. Foster grandparents from the community work with the teachers to help the children with various activities including reading.
We capped off our day in Barnwell by visiting a community park with a Born Learning trail (one of Annie’s first projects as a CLM) and a community lending library that was recently added. Both projects were done through collaboration among members of the Barnwell community. At the end of “Pete the Cat and His Magical Sunglasses”, Pete had broken his sunglasses, but realized that he didn’t need them to “look for the good in every day.” Annie’s energy and passion for her community reminded me of the positive things that come from finding the “good in every day”. I am looking forward to starting my Pulse assignment and learning more about how I can contribute to the literacy initiatives for STC.