Scholars help local elementary students go green, eat healthy and read

(Feb. 7, 2011) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The McConnell Scholars Program has partnered with the Head Start Program at Dawsom Orman Elementary for a semester-long project to help students go green, eat healthier and enhance their reading skills.

"As young leaders ourselves, we understand that it is important to give back to the community. We know what we feed into our education system builds the future leaders of the next generation," said Chelsey Hall, a senior McConnell Scholar and one of several students who spends time each month at Dawson Orman Education Center.

Students a Dawson Orman come from over 20 different countries; several are from families with income levels below the poverty line.

Sophomore McConnell Scholar Meagan Floyd initiated the partnership, noting the school's proximity to the University of Louisville's Belknap Campus and the opportunity for McConnell Scholars to help further reading, health and environmental needs in the community.

"We are excited to form a long-standing relationship with the students and become positive role models who promote reading and civic education in the lives of young one's who otherwise might not get it," Floyd said.

Helping students enhance their literary skills is a project close to several McConnell Scholars.

"When I was younger, one of the biggest things that had an impact on my education was that my parents would take the time to sit down and read with me, which imparted a life-long love of reading," said freshman McConnell Scholar Sarah Stovall. "This service event gave us the opportunity to sit down with children, read to them and to engage with them in their learning process," she said.

Scholars visited Dawson Orman Elementary Jan. 28 and will visit the students again Feb. 17. Three other sessions are scheduled throughout the spring semester. In addition to reading, McConnell Scholars will perform skits, create videos promoting green and civic initiatives and donate other materials to the school, Floyd said.

The McConnell Scholars also plan to facilitate a children's clothing drive on the University of Louisville's campus, clean up a local park and work in local soup kitchens this semester.

The McConnell Scholars Program was founded in 1991 on the pillars of scholarship, leadership and service.