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Dyslexia Center Looks to Raise Funds, Awareness

by on January 28, 2013 1:15 PM

For the second consecutive year, an anonymous donor has offered to give a 50 percent matching grant to the Children’s Dyslexia Center in State College if the Center raises $20,000 by Aug. 31.

The Center, which opened in 2007, provides free tutoring to 18 students ages six through 18 diagnosed with dyslexia from 15 counties in Pennsylvania and is asking the community to help in fundraising and donation efforts.

Chris Spearly, vice chair on the Board of Governors for the Center, said that although there is no way of knowing, she believes this year’s anonymous donor is the same one from last year.

Last year the Center raised the $20,000 needed for the anonymous donor’s grant several ways. The Tour for Dyslexia, a cross-country group bike tour started and led by Larry Emigh, chairperson on the Board of Governors for the Center, raised $16,000 last year. Emigh, 70 at the time, trained two years for the tour and rode 3,415 miles between California and Massachusetts.

Spearly said that the tour is not a fundraising option this year, but that there will be other opportunities for the community to get involved in helping the Center.

The parents of children who attend the Center will host the 3rd annual wine and food pairing and silent auction fundraiser, “A Toast to Reading,” on Sat., June 1. Marsha Landis, center director, said they are looking for help with sponsorship.

The fundraiser is a “celebration of the kids,” Landis said. She also said that much of the event celebrates the progress of the students who attend the Center. Individual tables set up throughout the venue will be dedicated to each student attending the Center, including an autobiographical paragraph written by each student and their favorite books or stuffed animals used as center pieces. Last year, Landis said, each table had a copy of a poem written by one of the Center’s graduates, which was a school contest winner. Parents will also talk at the event about their child’s experiences at the Center, she said.

The event also features a silent auction of a variety of products and services. Businesses are encouraged to sponsor a table. Landis said that all sponsorships $500 or more will be recognized on a poster and paid credit to during the event, and sponsorships of $5,000 or more will be highlighted with their name on a star that will hang in the Center.

Landis said that students, who would come into the Center believing that the program wouldn’t work for them, usually see improvements in as little as six weeks. Several parents, however, said that they saw improvements in their children’s reading abilities almost immediately.

“I was at the end of my rope,” said Crissy Goodwin, mother of Cate Goodwin, 9, who attends the Center. Crissy’s son, Sam, also received tutoring at the Center. Crissy said she learned about the Center through a Learning Support teacher from Centre Hall Elementary School where her children are enrolled.

Crissy also said that although her commute is only about 30 minutes, she would travel much further than that for the Center’s services and that she is “so grateful for it.”

Melissa Wolfe, mother of Abbey Wolfe, 9, who also attends the Center, described it as a “wonderful place.” She said she learned about the Center through Abbey’s first grade teacher. Melissa also said she is “very happy” with Abbey’s progress and that her reading scores in schools have gone up considerably. Abbey said that she would cry when she would have to read, but now feels good about it.

According to Landis, one in five people suffer from dyslexia. The Center utilizes the Orton-Gillingham method of tutoring those diagnosed with dyslexia. Although it has been around since the 1920s, this method is “not used in schools” but is highly effective in helping students become better readers and spellers, said Landis.

Landis said that those with dyslexia have a hard time connecting the sounds of letters to their shapes, but that the Orton-Gillingham method “breaks it down” into parts. With this method, students can focus on being able to “see, hear and feel” the letter or letters, which helps them learn how to say each letter in connection with others, she said. This allows those with dyslexia to retrieve words easier since they are learning to store the information in the back part of their brains instead of the front. Most tutorial sessions are one-on-one, said Landis, but that small group tutoring is beginning to be introduced into the Center’s curriculum.

Spearly said that everything one does in life involves reading, understanding and interpreting.

“This is a skill everyone needs to possess to succeed,” she said.

Landis said that she is hoping to add six more students to the Center when a new training program beings this summer.

The Center offers free tutor training to anyone with a bachelor’s degree. After completing training and becoming certified, tutors receive a salary, which is paid for by funds raised by the Center, said Spearly. Students admitted come to the Center twice a week receiving 62 lessons per year including 12 during the summer months. Landis said it takes about two to three years for students to complete the program. Tutoring is offered from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Center is located on 2766 W. College Ave. For more information on the “A Toast to Reading” fundraising event or to learn more about the Center, visit http://www.childrensdyslexiacenter.org.



Brittany is the administrative assistant at Barash Media and the Centre County Gazette.
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