Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Mayor's Commission on Literacy Launch New Reading Program With James Earl Jones

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Mayor's Commission on Literacy Launch New Reading Program With James Earl Jones

Jones Reads to Children to Kick-Off Program Encouraging Healthy Minds and Bodies

June 12, 2000


Stephanie Hobbs/Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages,

Barbara Grant/Mayor's Press Office,

Diane Buben/The Tierney Group,

Philadelphia - Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Literacy today launched Fit to Read, a program created to encourage parents and children to develop themselves both mentally and physically. The program, which addresses literacy, will launch in September 2000, and will be held on a monthly basis at sites throughout Philadelphia. Each month a speaker will discuss topics on physical fitness and nutrition for parents and children. Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages made the program possible through a $35,000 grant.

James Earl Jones, spokesperson for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and renowned actor, read Ndito Runs to 30 children from Feltonville Elementary School at the Mayor's Reception Room in City Hall. Jones captivated the children as he transformed the stately reception room into a reading room while he read the story.

"Families can easily fall into the trap of spending too much time in front of the television, computer or video games. Reading and exercise are often times overlooked," said Mary Jo Howe, vice president, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. "Having donated more than 50,000 books to parents and children, we know that the reading materials we are providing to the Fit to Read program will help create healthy minds."

"Literacy is critical - it is the fundamental foundation upon which all other skills are built. Fit to Read connects two of the issues that are most important to me, health and education," said the Honorable John Street, Mayor, City of Philadelphia. "The Mayor's Commission on Literacy will work diligently with Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages to make quality literacy education available and raise awareness of literacy and health issues."

This program will provide families with increased access to books and educational information to improve their lives. Children of adults who participate in literacy programs improve their grades, test scores and reading skills, and are less likely to drop out of school. This program will encourage families to participate in order to help their children achieve these kinds of positive results.

Fit to Read will make important literacy and health information readily available to families. Fit to Read is a positive measure that parents and children can use to lead better lives by developing their literacy skills and learning about physical fitness.

In addition to the monthly speakers' series, participants will receive educational materials including a book on the featured topic, along with instructions on how to use the book. The program will also feature a book prescription program for parents and children visiting the pediatric units of five local hospitals. Doctors will "prescribe" books to children during regular medical visits. The impact of these programs will heighten awareness of the connection between a healthy mind and body.

Improving literacy within the community is an ongoing effort for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. Local literacy programs are able to thrive through the donation of time and resources to literacy throughout the Bell Atlantic Community.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and one of the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

Formed in 1983, the Mayor's Commission on Literacy (MCOL) in Philadelphia was the first literacy agency in the country to be established by a local governing body. The mission of the MCOL is to ensure that quality literacy education is available for all adult learners. The Commission realizes this mission by providing a central telephone number for individuals seeking to improve their basic skills and those wishing to volunteer as tutors; by assisting, supporting, and coordinating existing and new literacy sites, and by promoting adult literacy and advertising the availability of services.