The Harvest Youth Board funded a $5,000 grant to QuickStart Tennis of Central Virginia to bring the Racquets for Reading program to Martinsville and Henry County Public Schools. Racquets for Reading, created in November 2020, prepares young children to read at or above grade level by third grade. QuickStart Tennis created the project after COVID-19 forced them to divert from their primary focus of teaching tennis and healthy living and explore new ways to reach kids during the pandemic. QuickStart Coordinator & Founder, Lynda Harrill, as well as vice-president of the organization, strives to provide the tools to improve reading levels city, county, and state-wide. “Age-appropriate books in the home are the foundation for all learning,” Harrill said. “All kids, especially disadvantaged and at-risk kids, need to have ‘home libraries’ so they can read and re-read books, form family bonds over reading and develop a lifelong love of reading.” As part of the program, teachers receive funding to purchase books from Scholastic to support their students’ needs. Classrooms receive giveaways to foster the love of reading, including mini reading rubber duckies, “I Love Reading” pins, and fruit-scented bookmarks and stickers. The Harvest Youth Board is excited to partner with a program that will help achieve the goal of having every local child reading at their grade level. “The Racquets for Reading program is one of my favorite grants, not only because it aligns perfectly with our goal of getting more books into the hands of the youth in our area, but also because those in charge of the program have a definite passion for helping our area, and that is something I find extremely important,” said Cristiano Di Maro, Harvest Youth Board member and Special Events Committee Chair. Another Harvest Youth Board member and secretary, Camille Underwood, said, “The Racquets for Reading grant is a great opportunity that supports the youth of Martinsville and Henry County through reading initiatives. It aligns with our Books and Bunnies Event and helps create awareness and improvement of literacy rates of youth in our area. Reading is such an important skill and low literacy rates have such a big impact on children and their futures. Low literacy rates can cause a child to not only fall behind but stay behind in school. The Harvest Youth Board wants to help boost reading skills and literacy rates in the community by ensuring access to books for all children.” The first round of giveaways is planned to arrive this September. The Harvest Youth Board is excited to get books in the hands of Martinsville-Henry County youth! For more information about QuickStart Tennis, its programs or how to donate, visit quickstartcentral.org. To find out more about the Harvest Youth Board, visit harvestyouthboard.org. Students in Martinsville and Henry County schools work with QuickStart Tennis of Central Virginia staff on reading skills through the Racquets for Reading program. The Harvest Youth Board recently funded a $5,000 grant to support the program.