In an effort to encourage reading and literacy, Amerigroup New Jersey recently launched its annual Read Across New Jersey (RANJ) initiative. The initiative includes book distributions, in-school events, and a video library that features celebrities, authors, local New Jersey politicians, and prominent community leaders.
Experts estimate that more than one-fifth of all New Jersey residents can't read.
"Literacy is the single most meaningful factor in lifting people out of poverty, encouraging social development, and helping promote good physical and emotional health. That's why Amerigroup is working with various communities to improve literacy rates and increase reading engagement," said Anya Nawrocky, Director of Membership and Growth.
The Read Across New Jersey kick-off event was held in Camden on "Read Across America Day," Thursday, March 2. The event featured the Philadelphia 76ers Entertainment Squad, interactive games, a photo booth, and giveaways for students. In addition, local Paulsboro native and NFL Player (Arizona Cardinals) Julien Davenport served as a guest reader and co-MC at the event, along with Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen.
For the next few months, Amerigroup is donating books to classrooms across New Jersey reaching more than 15,000 students and expanding its video library.
The library, created as an alternative to in-person events restricted because of the pandemic, allows children to read along with guest readers. Last year, guest readers for the video library included actress Brooke Shields, New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins, former professional basketball player Jason Thompson, author Jesse J Holland, "Rebel Girls" editor Lilly Workneh, and WPIX news anchor Tamsen Fadal.
Guest readers this year include:
∙ Actor Clarke Peters ("The Wire," "The Man Who Fell to Earth"
∙ All-American high school basketball player DJ DaJaun Wagner Jr., a Camden High School senior and internet influencer
∙ NFL Player (Arizona Cardinals) Julien Davenport
∙ Newark Mayor, Ras Baraka
∙ WCBS News Anchor Kristine Johnson
∙ The Grio's "Dear Culture" host Panama Jackson
∙ New Jersey State Senator Nellie Pou
The online video library can be accessed here.
Amerigroup's program is based on Read Across America, launched in 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA) and guided by a committee of educators. Read Across America focuses on literacy and motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone.
"Our support for Read Across America is part of our mission to give New Jersey families access to tools that encourage them to enjoy reading and enhance their lives," said Amerigroup New Jersey Medicaid Plan President Teresa Hursey.
About Amerigroup New Jersey
Amerigroup New Jersey helps improve healthcare access and quality for more than 260,000 low-income residents throughout the state by developing innovative care management programs and services. Members are assured care that is not only accessible but also accountable, comprehensive, integrated, and patient-centered. Amerigroup New Jersey provides ongoing community relations and outreach to encourage members to become active participants in their health care. Members are empowered to choose and sustain a healthy lifestyle through health education.