If you could walk in my shoes

If you could walk in my shoes, you’d want to do something important. –Reader/Writer student

The Reader/Writer program is a volunteer opportunity developed by educator Lia Venchi to help struggling inner-city youth develop their communication skills.

Venchi, a retired Minneapolis Public Schools English teacher, says most students in the program, which pairs students one-on-one with a writing coach, are at least two years behind their grade level in reading and writing. Currently, the program is working with seventh- and eighth-grade students in three Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools.

With the belief that literacy is a pathway to opportunity, including a quality education, Venchi says “the mission of the Reader/Writer program is to boost the writing fluency and skills of adolescents.”

Students typically write an essay or personal narrative (such as, If you could walk in my shoes …), from one paragraph to a page or two in length depending on skill level. The volunteer writing coach then reads, edits, and provides comments on their student’s work.

“This is a great opportunity to support struggling writers and to connect with some of our most challenged youth in a meaningful way,” Venchi says.

If you are interested in becoming a Reader/Writer volunteer, please contact the University Retirees Volunteer Center at urvc.umn.edu or Lia Venchi at readerwriter.org.

—Deanne Magnusson, URVC vice chair and project director

Publication date: 
September 20, 2021
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