Freeholders announce Reading to the Rescued Initiative

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The Freeholder Board announced a new program, Reading to the Rescued, where students from Brookfield Schools read books to rescued dogs at the Camden County Animal Shelter. This program pairs students, from 10 to 17-years-old, with timid dogs that are getting acclimated to their new homes and potential adoption from the shelter.

“This program is another innovative way to create a partnership where both the county and the children derive a significant benefit,” said Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the animal shelter. “The students get to improve their reading skills, while the animals get the attention and companionship they desire.

The Reading to the Rescued program was founded on the idea that reading to non-judgmental animals would increase students’ confidence and willingness to read out loud. The program also gives students the opportunity make toys for the dogs and cats and participate in a collection drive to help with shelter supplies.

“The program has enabled the students at the high school level to work cooperatively with the elementary students, improving their reading skills,” Sherry Ciarrocca, Reading to the Rescued Program Supervisor from Brookfield Schools. “This experience is also teaching them the value of community service and the importance of volunteering with animals in the community.”

Brookfield Schools serve students with special needs ages 5 through 21 with comprehensive programs in three settings over three campuses in Camden County. The specialized and wide-ranging programming on those campuses give students the ability to become productive members of society.

Brookfield Academy Principal, Patrick Kiernan, talked about the impact the program has had on his students.

“The partnership has afforded both our academy and elementary students a means to increase their skills by reading to theses non-judgmental, unconditional loving dogs,” Kiernan said. “These cuddly canines have found themselves with a new purpose of assisting this process in an unconventional and innovative way.”