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Literacy-based program to open in Woodbury

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Project Transformation will offer students the right setting for reading skills to be improved and maintained during summer months.

Project Transformation Tennessee, a literacy-based ministry that served more than 600 children and youth last summer in Davidson, Rutherford, and Shelby counties, will open a satellite program this summer in Cannon County.

The nonprofit organization is partnering with United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Cannon County Schools, The United Methodist Church, and more than 10 local churches to bring its unique model to serve children in Woodbury.

Every Monday through Thursday from June 5 to July 27, Project Transformation will operate a free day camp at First United Methodist Church, 502 W. High Street, Woodbury. The site will serve up to 80 elementary-age children and will be staffed by eight college-age interns.

Literacy is a key component of Project Transformation's programming, including an extensive children's library and daily one-on-one reading time with each child by a community volunteer. Beyond the reading component, Project Transformation interns will lead children in creative arts, recreation, and other enrichment activities that build social and emotional skills.

The interns, who will live on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, grow as well through weekly exposure to leadership development and vocational ministry opportunities. Project Transformation Tennessee launched in 2012 in Nashville and has served more than 1,500 children -- 80 percent of which have increased their reading level as a result of the program.

"This is a proven model that offers a structure for serving under-resourced children, connecting churches with their neighborhoods, and helping other area churches partner in a new and relevant ministry," said Courtney Aldrich, Executive Director of Project Transformation Tennessee. "We have selected Woodbury as the location of our first rural program because of the opportunity for impact, combined with the community partners who are willing to step forward and support this multi-dimensional ministry."

Project Transformation's first satellite site opened in 2015 in Murfreesboro at Key Memorial United Methodist Church. The Murfreesboro Area Advisory Council, which is comprised of church and community leaders, is bringing the model to Woodbury as the result of talks with stakeholders in Cannon County.

Randy Allen, Director of Community Impact at United Way said, "We've seen the successes of Project Transformation's summer literacy program in Rutherford County, and are proud to support the expansion of the program to meet the needs of the Cannon County community."

"For the last 8 years I have been praying for something to help the students in our county, especially during the summer months," said the Rev. John Hembree, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Woodbury. "Project Transformation will provide the setting for reading skills to be maintained and improved over the summer. There is something about reading with a child that makes a special connection with them. Now the people of Cannon County will be able to experience the difference it can make for their student."

Local education leaders are welcoming the program, which has built a solid track record of working with schools to improve reading skills.

"I am so excited that Project Transformation will be coming to Cannon County this summer," said Barbara Parker, Director of Cannon County Schools. "There is such a great need for our students to be exposed to good reading materials and practice their skills during the summer months when most students seem to 'slide' backwards in their skills because of lack of exposure to reading. The Cannon County School System is privileged to be a part of this great venture."

In addition to the Woodbury location, Project Transformation will operate eight other program sites in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Memphis with the leadership of 79 young adult interns and the support of more than 1,500 community volunteers. The mission of Project Transformation is to engage young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry, support underserved children and families, and connect churches to communities in need. To learn more about Project Transformation, visit pttennessee.org or call (615) 810-9620.

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literacy, Project Transformation
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