Mayor Deegan hosts literacy event for Jacksonville youth

Mayor Deegan hosts literacy event for Jacksonville youth

On January 27, Mayor Donna Deegan kicked off her “Mayor Deegan’s River City Readers” initiative as a way to encourage enthusiasm among children for reading. This marks just the beginning of her vision for the youth of Jacksonville, which includes raising the literacy levels of children, involving youth in government, and developing the arts and culture scene of Jacksonville.

Deegan’s focus on literacy centers around the fact that “the huge majority of people in our jails are not literate,” and “less than half of our third graders can read at grade level.” She acknowledges that education, specifically literacy, directly correlates to quality of life and economic opportunity, all of which benefit the city. 

Mayor Deegan’s River City Readers was a free event, sponsored by private donors and city funds, that hosted multiple public schools and thousands of children to engage in reading workshops. Special guests such as the Jaguars Drumline, members of the Jaguars Cheerleaders, and the author of the Cornbread series, Vincent Taylor, attended the event. 

Children were encouraged to download the app “Beanstack” to track their reading because as Mayor Deegan says, “20 minutes a day [of reading] paves the way.” The app allows students to earn badges and prizes such as Jaguars tickets and more for reading 20 minutes a day. The overall goal is to read 300,000 minutes city-wide by next year. 

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Deegan’s ultimate goal is to “eradicate poverty” by starting with a focus on literacy to allow for more opportunity for the children of Jacksonville.

Deegan also hopes to appeal to Jacksonville’s youth population by cultivating a thriving arts and culture community. She hopes to create “a downtown that is exciting and a fun place for [youth] to engage and activate the riverfront.” 

Additionally, there is a new focus on youth engagement in an attempt to “connect youth to City Hall” so their voices can be heard on issues. The Mayor’s Office is creating internships through the city government so youth can interact with city leaders and learn about the governing process. 

A new position called the “Special Assistant to the Mayor on Civic Engagement and Youth Participation” has been created to spearhead this process and put youth engagement “under one umbrella.” The goal for the position is to have a point person whose focus is youth engagement so that it remains a priority for the government. 

Deegan advises youth to become part of the process and to “speak out on the [policies] you agree and disagree with.” Most importantly, “vote!… to shape this community, this state, this country the way that you want to.”

 

About the Contributor
Amber Bansal
Amber Bansal, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Amber Bansal is a senior and this year's Co-Editor-In-Chief. Amber loves all things Bollywood and is drawn to study politics in the future and wishes to travel the world. She hopes to create a productive environment and use her four years of Bugle experience to help others especially if you bribe her with chocolate.