Athletics does its part for “Literacy Week” in the state of Florida
A group of JU student-athletes and staff members took time out of their busy schedules to help promote “Literacy Week” in the state of Florida by reading to students locally.

Junior volleyball player Ashley August, special projects xoordinator Brian Freshley and Dunk’N the Dolphin joined several volunteers in reading “Oh the Places You’ll Go” on Tuesday afternoon at Arlington Heights Elementary.

“Reading is such an essential skill that we overlook on a daily basis,” said August after her experience. “Being able to reinforce the importance of this skill to our youth is an amazing feeling.

“After arriving to Arlington Elementary and walking into the classroom, I was surprised to feel a sense of nervousness to read in front of the class of fourth graders. After finishing the book the kids were just so excited to get to read it again on their own; that was when I really felt fulfillment.

“The best part was when one of the students asked, ‘How are you so short and still playing volleyball?’ Reality came back, and it was time for me to go to school and employ this skill, reading, which I have been overlooking. I look forward to going back next year.”

The group returned on Wednesday afternoon as junior women’s basketball player Ashanti Williams and Director of Women’s Basketball Operations Teneshia Ruff spoke at Matthew Gilbert Middle School.

Williams and Ruff discussed how reading and school work made positive effects on their lives and have helped them pursue their dreams. They also read a story to the students at the assembly and broke them into small groups to finish the story in different parts through a “Reading Relay.”

“I tried to emphasize to the students the importance of never letting anyone diminish their goals or aspirations,” said Ruff, who has helped promote a book for author and former women’s basketball coach Vera Jones. “It’s important to take into consideration the opportunity to receive an education is invaluable and that it is a big doorway and stepping stone to reaching those goals. Each day brings numerous opportunities to learn, and grow, whether it’s from experience, gaining knowledge or mistakes.”