Linking Literacy to Movement
Through a partnership between Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD), Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Niagara Community Center, and Niagara University (NU) the Linking Literacy to Movement program was established. This program aims to integrate literacy and sports in a unique way. Under the leadership of four program administrators, this collaborative effort has opened opportunities for children in the community to learn and play.
In Fall 2018 the structure of the program included one hour of literacy followed by one hour of play. Three undergraduate students and an adjunct professor in Niagara University’s College of Education provided literacy instruction, teaching foundational knowledge of various physical activities. Lessons targeted specific literacy skills, including: reading, writing, vocabulary, oral language, comprehension, and fluency. Also, content area information was covered, including, history, math, and ELA, through lessons on various topics (e.g., history of sports, geography of where sports are popular, etc.). Niagara University undergraduate athletes, sports management students, and club sports students were used to facilitate physical activities and games related to the literacy lesson of the day.
The physical activity component of the sessions included, golf, volleyball, baseball, tennis, track and field, and soccer. 35 NU students, three coaches, and one professor served local youth from the community, volunteering their time and using their knowledge and expertise of the sport to guide the session.
The Linking Literacy to Movement program is beneficial to all who are involved. The students in the program have reported an increase in both their knowledge and interest in sports, as well as an interest in the literacy lessons that precede the structured play. The program also encourages teamwork and provides role models to the youth through the NU athletes. Likewise, the athletes gain experience in a leadership role, as they act as coaches and mentors to the youth.