Boston Author Tries to Hit Funding Home Run for Bats and Books

Sports, exercise and books, natural partners, team up in children's library exhibit. Research shows exercise helps children lose weight and achieve more in school.

Boston, MA, April 11, 2010 --( Literacy+Exercise, a recent research-based exhibit in Boston, encourages reading and running at the library. The zigzagging, bunny-hopping racing read of a giant-sized, interactive book in English and Spanish involves children's minds and bodies. With the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign focusing the entire country’s attention on childhood obesity, Literacy+Exercise enlist an unlikely partner, libraries in getting kids active. Its a great partnership, research shows obesity affects health, but it also affects learning. A study published in ‘Nature’ magazine based on research conducted at the University of Calif. Santa Cruz shows that "exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells and an article in the Journal of School Health in 2009 indicated physically fit students perform better in school." The Literacy+Exercise exhibit—with tunnels to explore and secrets to discover—physically engages children with reading.

The exhibit’s creator, children's author Irene Smalls, says that "exercise, sports, and books are a natural combination." She explains that Literacy+Exercise, or Literacise, is book-based, book-related exercise and movement. The exhibits motto is “Literacy+Exercise is fighting childhood obesity one word and one step at a time”. Smalls adds, “with academic achievement still a problem in this country, why overlook the natural benefits of increased physical exercise? Increased exercise for children is a win–win–win situation. It's a win against childhood obesity, a win for learning, and a win for lower heath care costs.

The Literacy+Exercise exhibit was on display at the main branch of the Boston Public Library for six months and received rave reviews. One parent said, "Literacise is a one-of-a-kind exhibit. The carefree spirit Literacise brought out in my son, Gabe and I had us laughing out loud." Smalls received numerous requests for the exhibit to travel to schools and libraries all over the US. Then major budget cuts affecting those same schools and libraries were announced. The thirty requests her team received diminished to twenty, then dwindled to ten, and today, only two libraries are able to fund the exhibit’s visit.

Now Smalls and the Literacise team are trying to score a home run for bats and books by winning the money to take the exhibit across the US. The Literacy+Exercise exhibit is a contestant in an online voting type of fundraising, the Pepsi Refresh Everything Challenge. Pepsi is giving away one million dollars a month for good ideas. With scientific research showing that exercise fights childhood obesity and improves learning, Literacy+Exercise is more than a good idea. The Literacy+Exercise exhibit's win would make the exhibit available at minimal cost to the schools and libraries that want it. The Literacy+Exercise grant voting period is April 1–April 30. The Pepsi grants go to the ideas that get the most votes.

You can still vote for the Literacy+Exercise in the Pepsi Refresh Everything Challenge. With twenty days left, everyone can vote once a day for twenty days and give twenty votes.

Go to the website to vote.

Irene Smalls is the award-winning author of fifteen books for children and three storytelling CDs. An exercise enthusiast, she has made movement a trademark of her writing. She travels the world sharing her magic of movement and story.

Irene Smalls and Associates
Irene Smalls
617 266-0262