Caitlin Gooch of Wendell, North Carolina, is using her passion for horses as a way to help raise literacy rates in her community by getting more kids interested in reading.
Caitlin was volunteering with young students in an after-school program and discovered that many kids couldn’t read or spell even simple words. She also realized that they loved looking at all of her photos of horses. So, she made a deal with them …
If they got all of their spelling words correct, they were invited to visit her father’s farm and meet the horses in person.
It worked. Many kids made it a priority to do better on the tests -- and were rewarded with a visits to the special farm.
Caitlin then started a program called Saddle Up and Read. She now loads her truck and trailer with donated books and stuffed animals -- along with a horse or two -- and takes the show on the road to different neighborhoods, parks and parking lots so the kids can get a book and pet a horse.
As she sees the impact her work is having on children, Caitlin wants to expand the program in the future -- and even create a permanent facility with the goal of raising literacy rates in North Carolina and beyond.
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