By Dan Savage, OrlandoMagic.com
The Orlando Magic and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) have picked the perfect game plan to help students roll into the new year.
On Tuesday at Rock Lake Elementary School, the Magic and OCPS announced the all-new Pick, Read & Roll partnership program to incentivize local youth to improve their reading skills over the next year.
The program will be available to all fourth-grade students enrolled in OCPS and will award those with the greatest reading improvement the opportunity to attend an exclusive kids-only event at Amway Center, featuring Magic players and coaches, entertainment, music and more.
“We’re super excited to launch the Pick, Read & Roll program with Orange County Public Schools,” said Magic President of Business Operations Charlie Freeman. “We really want to create an incentive for the youth here in Central Florida to start reading, (teach them) the importance of reading, and get them to a great event in October of 2019 at the Amway Center with players, coaches and really celebrate their success.”
Since all students read at different levels, the program will measure the growth and improvements of each individual’s reading skills over the course of the school year.
“What’s unique about the program is that it’s about improving your reading skills,” Freeman explained. “So, no matter where you’re at, you can look to qualify and be a part of this, while improving your reading skills and stressing the importance of reading in our community.”
If the atmosphere at Rock Lake Elementary School was any indication, students will be overjoyed to take part in this initiative. The over 100 students in attendance erupted into a frenzy as STUFF the Magic mascot, the Magic SunPass Blue Crew team, and other members of the Magic tipped-off the program.
“It was amazing, the kids were screaming, they were jumping up and down, they were so excited about this,” OCPS Director of Elementary Curriculum Meg Bowen said. “It got them excited about reading and excited about going to an Orlando Magic (event).”
The screams of exuberance reached near-deafening levels as the Magic entertainment crew tossed T-shirts into an auditorium full of students and awarded each child with a jersey, rally racket and team ball.
“We had 100 kids here today and they were going crazy, loving everything,” Freeman said. “Can you just imagine what it’s going to be like when (close to 18,000) students are in Amway Center?”
The program adds another dimension to community outreach for an organization that’s dedicated to giving back to the Central Florida region. On an annual basis, the Magic already give more than $2 million to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants and their community relations programs impact an estimated 100,000 kids each year.
It’s a value that shouldn’t be underestimated according to Bowen.
“Think about how our kids look up to the Orlando Magic, they see them as heroes in their eyes,” she explained. “So, when the team comes out and representatives from the organization come out and talk to the kids about the importance of reading that really drives the message home and it really reaches our kids.”
With a clear scorecard for success, we’ll find out exactly how many fourth-grade students were reached by this program come next October.