The Orlando Magic and Florida Blue closed out National Reading Month in March by highlighting two events to promote literacy and education to local youth. Earlier in March, the two teamed up for the sixth season to host a Baskets for Books storytime at the Orlando Science Center for 30 youth from Early Education Station Preschool. At the end of the month Florida Blue and the Magic held a spelling bee for 30 fourth and fifth grade students at Callahan Neighborhood Center. The spelling bee also included a volunteer sweepstakes providing one fan the opportunity to enter to win a chance to volunteer at this event with Magic player Aaron Gordon.
The Magic’s Baskets for Books program presented by Florida Blue was created to develop lifelong learners through literacy and education. Through the program, for every point made by the Orlando Magic at every home game one book is donated to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Since program inception, more than 39,000 books have been donated to the Early Learning Coalition. More than 4,500 books were donated last season with the help of Houghton Mifflin & Harcourt Publishing Company.
The Orlando Magic Volunteer Sweepstakes presented by Florida Blue provided fans a chance to enter and win by posting #MagicVolunteerSweepstakes with @FlBlue to their social media pages. As part of the sweepstakes, the winner, Madelaine Ramirez, got to attend the Magic’s spelling bee volunteer event with Gordon. Ramirez led one of the two spelling bee teams with Gordon heading up the other team. Each team was give sports related words to spell in the competition and had the ability to earn additional points by making a basket from one of the many spots on an indoor basketball hoop. The team that accumulated the most points at the end was crowned as champions.
The Baskets for Books program and the volunteer sweepstakes spelling bee provided a way to continue the team’s literacy efforts, one of the Magic’s three focus areas. Based on the need in this area, literacy remains a point of emphasis for the Magic (research below provided by the U.S. Department of Education during the most recent fiscal year).
· 80 percent of the preschool and after-school programs serving at-risk children do not have access to books.
· 61 percent of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes.
· By age four, children who live in low-income homes will have heard 32 million fewer words than children who read on a daily basis and have access to books in their home.