Andrew Goben, Yokota West Elementary School kindergatener, reads one of the books made available to him through the Gateway to Reading program, May 5, 2010, Yokota Air Base, Japan. Gateway to Reading is a loan-share book program designed to make finding time to read easy for elementary school aged students. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)
Andrew Goben, Yokota West Elementary School kindergartener, chooses a book to read from a Gateway to Reading container, May 5, 2010, Yokota Air Base, Japan. Gateway to Reading is a loan-share book program designed to make finding time to read easy for elementary school aged students. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)
by Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
5/7/2010 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- One local Girl Scout is attempting to accomplish a lifetime goal by helping children at Yokota find time to read.
Shannon Lowder, USA Girl Scouts Overseas-Yokota ambassador to Troop 9, is striving to achieve her Girl Scout Gold Award through a program she created called "Gateway to Reading."
The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts, which less than six percent of Senior Girl Scouts earn. The prerequisites include a 30-hour leadership project, a 40-hour career shadow and a 65-hour community project.
After receiving the award, Shannon will become eligible to receive advanced rank if she chooses to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some universities and colleges even offer scholarships to Gold Award recipients.
"Since Daisies, I have wanted to achieve this prestigious award," said Miss Lowder.
Shannon decided her community project was going to address the issues of reading comprehension and literacy skills in elementary students, while helping busy parents accomplish their daily tasks.
"I noticed that kids were not doing anything while their parents were running errands or at appointments, so I thought maybe something productive for them to do would be better," said Shannon.
While parents are busy shopping at the Commissary, Base Exchange or getting a haircut, children can select a book from any of the 36 "Gateway to Reading" containers located around the base. If they enjoy it, they can take the book home and then return it after they are done reading.
"I wanted to do this because reading is the foundation of education," said Shannon. "You have to have good reading skills to get a proper education."
According to Miss Lowder, the program is self-sustaining and meant to supplement local libraries, but not to replace them. Because "Gateway to Reading" is an 'on my honor' program, Shannon also thinks the children will benefit by learning the values of borrowing and returning.
"I hope this program will help parents on the go and also promote the love of reading," said Shannon.