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College Volunteers Flock to HELP

By Laura L. Tarter, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Membership in the Harvard Emerging Literacy Project (HELP), a public service program launched last semester, has nearly quadrupled this fall, from about 25 to 97 volunteers.

HELP is one of two programs within Harvard-Radcliffe Little People. The other program is the Computer and Critical Thinking Program, a Boston-based organization headed by Elizabeth A. Haynes '98.

"The experience for college students is just incredible," said Chandler F. Arnold, '98, HELP's founder. "It has informed my own life as much as anything I've learned in a class."

The program works closely with teacher and families of students at 12 Head Start pre-schools in the Cambridge area.

Volunteers praised the openess of teachers at the schools to the program.

"They let us into the classroom atmosphere. They didn't isoloate us, and let us be just like one of the kids. It was great," said Ashley A. T. Tongret '00, a returning volunteer with the program.

One of HELP's main goals is to expose children to reading at an early age and to prepare them intellectually and emotionally for school.

"It's a great way to introduce [children] to books. If you take out a book, it's suprising how many kids will gather around you," said Sanaz Hariri '99, a returning volunteer with the program.

"We strive to work with, instead of simply working for, com- munities," Arnold said. "While some organizations focus on weaknesses in a community, we want to build on the strengths already in the communities."

As Little People continues to expand, the coordinators plan to focus on strengthening the relationships that have already been established with specific teachers and community schools, Arnold said.

Eventually, he would like to see HELP expand into other pre-schools in the Cambridge area.

This summer, Arnold wrote a pamphlet entitled "Read With Me" for the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Modeled on the HELP program, it is a guide for student volunteers starting early childhood literacy projects.

"Read with Me" will be distributed by the Department of Education to all colleges and universities in the country

As Little People continues to expand, the coordinators plan to focus on strengthening the relationships that have already been established with specific teachers and community schools, Arnold said.

Eventually, he would like to see HELP expand into other pre-schools in the Cambridge area.

This summer, Arnold wrote a pamphlet entitled "Read With Me" for the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Modeled on the HELP program, it is a guide for student volunteers starting early childhood literacy projects.

"Read with Me" will be distributed by the Department of Education to all colleges and universities in the country

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