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Rally links campus, NCAA and young readers

September 20, 2016

Coach Jason Gardner joins in the mentoring activities with youngsters.

Jaguars men's basketball coach Jason Gardner, right, often takes a turn mentoring Marion County youngsters when IUPUI provides reading support for students at local elementary schools. | PHOTO COURTESY OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS

Approximately 900 third-graders from Pike Township schools will descend upon the Natatorium on Friday, Sept. 23, for a pep rally to support a partnership linking IUPUI, the NCAA and Pike Township schools supporting the national "Readers Are Leaders" program.

The initiative will connect IUPUI student-athletes with grade-school children to support good reading habits. The children in attendance will be asked to take a pledge to read 30 minutes each day between now and the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships, scheduled to take place in the Natatorium in March.

During the rally, the youths will get to see Jaguars swimmers and divers in action in the Natatorium pool and diving off the 10-meter platform, the same facility that hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials.

Chancellor Nasser Paydar and NCAA President Mark Emmert will discuss the value of the reading program as part of a press conference announcing the partnership. Lauren Lowrey of WISH-TV will emcee the pep rally and press conference.

The IUPUI-NCAA partnership is part of the national Readers Are Leaders program, which teams college and high school athletes with youngsters who are learning to read more effectively as a key to long-term academic success.

During discussions that led to the partnership, IUPUI learned that it differs from other programs across the country in that the elementary students will come to the IUPUI campus to work with Jaguar student-athletes.

The IUPUI athletics department has a long history of partnering with Indianapolis-area elementary schools, pairing college athletes with young readers through the Jags Reading Club. That program, which is not affiliated with the NCAA partnership, is expected to continue.

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