Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mobile Classrooms Screen for Dyslexia; NEMOURS Vehicles Travel to Schools to Identify and Train Students with Reading Difficulties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mobile Classrooms Screen for Dyslexia; NEMOURS Vehicles Travel to Schools to Identify and Train Students with Reading Difficulties

Article excerpt

Byline: ERIC BRADNER

Nine hours is all it can take to change the lives of small children who struggle with reading.

These are the children who are constantly left frozen under the glares of a full elementary school classroom, grappling with the horror of standing at a chalkboard staring at letters that just don't seem to make words while the teacher waits for an answer.

Unless someone notices the warning signs, it's a nightmare these students are forced to relive every day.

So Nemours Children's Clinic is getting a head start at helping those students catch up before they even set foot in kindergarten. With its BrightStart! Dyslexia Initiative, Nemours has helped students for free since 2005, and it is launching four mobile classrooms today.

Nemours has three vehicles. One is a truck that has two classrooms in it. The other two are vans, or "sprinters," with one classroom each.

The classrooms are fully equipped to test students at child-care centers and public events across the Jacksonville area, and then to offer intensive training to students whose test scores indicate the program could help.

Nemours' dyslexia test finds students who read near the bottom of their age range. After their nine-hour program to help those students, two-thirds are reading at grade level.

"If you're the kid who can't write on the blackboard or read out loud, then pretty soon you begin to believe that you're stupid. That's just not true," said Kathy Ingram, the director of community initiatives for BrightStart!

In the past, instead of using the mobile classrooms, Nemours would take its equipment and set up shop at about 125 child-care centers. They'd use hallways, bathrooms and kitchens, or any other space they could find.

"Just give us a corner, and we'd screen there," said Gloria Decker, a BrightStart! teacher.

The problem was that not every day-care center or pre-school had any space at all -- and even if they did, it was tough to find an environment ideal for testing children, said Laura Bailet, the executive director of the dyslexia initiative.

The test is 20 questions long and is multiple choice. Children are asked to identify letter names, letter sounds, rhyming and more. Children who answer eight or less questions correctly are offered the intensive training program. …

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