Partnership Teaches the Importance of Reading to Summer Campers


The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department (PRCA) is proud to announce a new youth literacy program that keeps children reading during the summer. The I-Read program is a local initiative developed in partnership with Innovative Dads and Gainesville Thrives, and is a collaboration that will expand learning at each of the five summer camp locations. Innovative Dads provides the curriculum, Gainesville Thrives supplies the books, members of the Panhellenic and Greek Councils at the University of Florida (UF) volunteer for the program and the bookcases were designed by the UF Rinker School of Construction Management.

Reading comprehension continues to be an area of need for students, and I-Read strives to foster cooperative learning by allowing youth to work in small groups and assess their progress. The program has a particular focus on African-American literature, and is age appropriate for elementary school children. There are plans to extend the program into the after-school programs operated by PRCA that will culminate with a spelling bee and essay contest.

“We found a particular gap in reading material for African-American children, and wanted to find a way to expose more kids to their culture while helping them improve their reading skills,” says Gerard Duncan of Innovative Dads. “Working with the participants in the city’s summer camp program allows us to focus on children in need but, at the same time, be able to account for reading level improvements.”

PRCA offers summer camps for children in first through fifth grade at Albert “Ray” Massey Recreation Center, Eastside Community Center, Porters Community Center, Clarence R. Kelly Community Center and the Phoenix Neighborhood.

For more information about the I-Read Program, please contact Gerard Duncan at

For summer camp information, please contact Mary Harker, program coordinator for recreation education, at 352-393-8438 or

For interviews and other media inquiries, please contact William Marcantel, recreation manager, at 352-393-8526 or