Igniting Young Minds


Learning to read, and read well, changes young lives. Some kids, particularly those from disadvantaged homes, fall behind their classmates at a very young age when it comes to literacy. That’s where YMCA READS! comes into play. The free, volunteer-driven program nourishes the minds of early elementary students who need the most help and sets them on a path for future learning.


YMCA READS! uses proven, research-based tools to ignite young minds at-risk for lifelong reading difficulties. This curriculum focuses on the ability to hear sounds within words, the relationships between sounds and symbols, the speed and quality of oral reading, vocabulary, comprehension and text-to-life connections.


“Our focus this school year is to create a new way of teaching,” explains Tampa YMCA Reading Intervention Coordinator Mercedes Wood. “We have digitalized our lessons to help engage students who have a harder time focusing. This allows us to teach using tablets, projector screens and laptops.” This technology is already paying off with local data showing improvement in Y READS! test scores.


“I was fearful my son Allen had autism. He would speak only one word when he wanted something,” shares Maglyn Ruiz. Since Y READS!, his mother notices a drastic difference in the 3rd grader. “Allen has improved and he is more open now. When he started school, he was below level. Now, Allen comes home, he starts his homework immediately and even reviews it,” testifies Maglyn. “His behavior and work have improved. We have never been more thankful for YMCA READS! for our son!”


Y READS! creates positive, nurturing environments for nearly 145 kids at Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School, Twin Lakes Elementary and Pizzo Elementary. To learn more, click here.


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