Literacy has a profound impact on health, wealth, and happiness. Sadly, reduced access to literature and rarer encouragement to read have resulted in decreased engagement among students and books, but there is hope. Even brief exposure to good reading material can boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading, and organizations like Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) are focused on increasing that exposure.
As the International Honor Organization for Financial Information Students and Professors, Beta Alpha Psi has taken commendable steps to promote literacy across the country. In 2012, BAP developed the BAP International Day of Literacy, the goal of which is to “distribute books to local organizations and teach about the importance of literacy.” Sponsored by KPMG LLP and the KPMG Foundation, the BAP International Day of Literacy occurred for the fourth time on Thursday, August 4, 2016, and Gleim CPA was part of it.
Volunteering at BAP International Day of Literacy
The Gleim CPA team traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to exhibit at the BAP Annual Meeting from August 4-6, and members Sarah and Amanda were fortunate to participate in the community service day the conference included. On that day, over 900 BAP students volunteered at 11 local schools to share hours of fun and learning with about 1,300 children going into first through sixth grade.
The event commenced early with an introduction to the history of and schedule for the BAP International Day of Literacy. After the morning meeting, BAP students, photographers, and other volunteers, including Gleim CPA, loaded into the buses that would transport them to the nearby schools. The Gleim team was stationed at Westport Academy Elementary and Middle School and joined thirty-some BAP students in hosting a variety of activities for the Westport scholars. The BAP students guided groups of Westport students to different classrooms in which the Westport students would have the chance to dance, run, listen to stories, and play games involving math and reading. Following the international theme of the day, the groups were named for the oceans of the world. Amanda accompanied the North Pacific group of first and second graders, while Sarah led the Southern Ocean group of second graders.
Learning with Westport Students
Not only were the Westport students able to practice their reading and counting skills, but they were also able to learn more about continents and animals due to the international theme. In the North America room, the children completed a word search containing country names, while in the Africa room, they worked with play money to practice adding and sorting. A relay in the Europe room got them spelling the names of famous monuments, and a freeze dance in the Antarctica room had them jamming to some good tunes! The kids learned cool facts about wild animals in the Asia and South America rooms, and they imitated the sweet moves of animals in the Australia room. The BAP students concluded the fun and games by reading the award-winning picture book Miss Rumphius to their groups before giving every Westport student a copy of two other children’s books and a cute little rubber piggy bank.
The afternoon filled with learning, laughing, and making lifelong memories ended all too soon. Yet, Amanda and Sarah believe it was a very successful and special time. Amanda said, “The BAP International Day of Literacy was an awesome way to begin BAP Annual because it enabled the volunteers to get to know each other and share a meaningful experience. It also allowed us to give back to the community and promote skills that are crucial to society. The event instilled in me a sense of purpose that lasted for the duration of the conference and beyond. I was so grateful for the opportunity to hang out with the Westport scholars and help them see the value and the joy of literacy. The energy and passion of both the BAP and the Westport students was pretty inspiring, and I think contributing to the Westport students’ education was as beneficial to me as it was to them.”
Sarah added, “It was really impressed upon us the volunteers that we have a certain amount of privilege and success and that we should use that to give back in the ways we can. At the schools around Baltimore, we gave books to lots of children, many of whom had never owned a book before. And we were reminded that books are the gateway to higher education and pave the way out of poverty.”
Gleim CPA wishes the best for all the students involved in the BAP International Day of Literacy, and we will continue to support BAP and the communities around us with our time and effort.