The Miami Dolphins have many community based outreach incentives that they orchestrate and support. Among their causes are: cancer, providing scholarships to outstanding students from challenging backgrounds, youth sporting charities, and summer reading programs throughout Florida. Though all of the charities they support are wonderful, the summer reading programs are the stand out, considering that Florida has one of the highest levels of illiteracy in entire United States. It is estimated that some 20% of adults in Florida lack even basic literacy skills. The only other states that have higher illiteracy rates are New York and California.
The Miami Dolphins are the first sports team to partner not just with their local libraries, but the entire Florida state library system. For the summer reading programs, players and cheerleaders make appearances, provide autographed posters for promotion, donate books, and prizes for milestone achievements in reading programs.
By helping tackle illiteracy, the Dolphins are contributing much more than money or support to society. By supporting programs that reach out to children in communities and encourage them to read, they are supporting the betterment of our society. Literacy has strong ties to the development of a child and illiteracy, as one would imagine can make living a normal life nearly impossible. To more fully understand what an important issue this is, let’s put it into perspective.
· Two thirds of those who do not acquire proficient reading skills by the end of 4th grade end up in jail or on welfare.
· 70% of US inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
· Literacy is a learned skill. It must be taught and reinforced in order to obtain it. Children of illiterate parents are very unlikely to learn how to read well without a lot of help.
· Some 53% of 4th graders say they enjoy reading recreationally often. The number among 8th graders is 20%.
Literacy must be Taught, Practiced and Reinforced
The importance of literacy is not just on an intellectual level, but also when it comes to health. It is estimated that the US spends up to $70 million a year on medical costs which are directly related to illiteracy. It has also been proven that those who are illiterate have a significantly shorter life span, and are vulnerable to more diseases. When you consider that the majority of those who are either illiterate or functionally illiterate, are from low income backgrounds where government assistance is needed, the cost of illiteracy is obvious. Not being able to read or write limits the life prospect that one can hope to have. In addition it costs our country money that would be far better used, say for education.
The work that the Miami Dolphins do throughout Florida by advocating literacy is invaluable. By using their star power to encourage children to pick up books and read they are battling larger issues such as poverty, health, and mental health. Literacy is an issue that often gets taken for granted and becomes overlooked in the first world. Sadly, illiteracy is still a reality for the US, but through volunteers and donors such as the Dolphins illiteracy is waning and will one day be a thing of the past.