COLUMBIA — Two MU student athletes bonded with an elementary school student Wednesday over a shared love of author J.K. Rowling.
They, and MU College of Education faculty member Anne Deaton, were connected through videoconferencing as part of MU's Star Light Reading Program.
Tom Knaus of the Tiger wheelchair basketball team, tennis player Jamie Mera and Deaton took turns while reading “The Three Questions,” written and illustrated by John J. Muth, to students at Hallsville Elementary School and Blackburn Elementary School in Independence.
The Star Light Reading Program, started by the MU College of Education in 2003, aims to introduce reading early in life. The program uses student athletes because youth look up to athletes as role models, an Education College press release stated.
Five elementary schools are participating in the program. Schools are chosen based on whether they have the equipment and time available for the readings. The three other elementary schools part of the program are James Walker Elementary in Blue Springs, Bryant Elementary in Independence and Dewey Elementary in Chillicothe. James Walker Elementary is new to the program this semester.
“We had four (team members) who signed up to do this," Tiger wheelchair basketball coach Ron Lykins said. "It’s a way of us saying thank you. So many people and departments here at the university help our program out, it’s a chance for us to say thank you to them by helping others out.”
After the reading, they took questions from the students about the book and personal questions about their favorite books and what sports they watch.
“I don’t know if I’m necessarily the best at this at my sport, but one of the things that I really like to do is try and be a really supportive teammate," Mera said when asked what she did best at her sport. "So during matches I’m always yelling for my teammates and yelling ‘Go Tigers’ and trying to really have a lot of spirit out there and just keeping it fun for everyone.”