Kyle Alderson is an honor student, athlete, Eagle Scout, Black Belt in taekwondo and a community volunteer. Besides organizing blood drives, renovating his church, painting handicapped symbols in parking lots, collecting food for the needy and volunteering at the American Legion Post, Kyle has created and initiated two of his own service projects: READ (Reading Encourages All Dreams) and "Saving Timmy" (A School Bus Awareness Program). Kyle has been instrumental in lighting the flames of community service in youth in Muldrow.
When Kyle became aware that 45 children die and about 8,000 are injured in school bus related accidents each year, he decided to survey 657 students in his district to determine their safety awareness. He found that not one student could ever remember having any school bus safety education. In order to educate the children and parents in his community, Kyle created "Saving Timmy," which includes a puppet show that tours elementary schools. This puppet show, written by Kyle, features Timmy and his friends who learn about school bus safety along with the children in the audience. The puppeteers are volunteer students who have performed for more than 1,200 students this year.
READ was created when Kyle discovered that only 42% of the adults in his rural community had a high school diploma. Realizing that reading is an essential component of a successful education, Kyle decided to use his own love of reading to combat the graduation problem in the community by creating READ. READ pairs elementary children who struggle with reading with a volunteer high school mentor. These students meet each week at the public library to strengthen reading skills and youth relationships. READ has had a huge impact on the community. In its first year there were 21 mentors and 30 elementary students who directly benefited from READ, and this year the enrollment has significantly increased. The children's reading scores have improved as high as two letter grades.
Many of the mentors have helped their children deal with issues such as a parent's death and peer bullying. In addition, the mentors discuss the importance of academics, handling peer pressure and avoiding drug and alcohol abuse with their children. For at least one hour each week the children are pleased to know there is someone who thinks they are special and cares for them. The local library has also benefited from READ. During the spring of 2001, the program was chosen as a national Make a Difference Day Project and the library was the recipient of a $10,000 prize.
Kyle is a role model for children and adults of his community alike. His lifestyle is giving not just the words of his mouth. He has provided his community with numerous projects which they can become involved in and learn to be giving, caring, community members.