DURHAM, N.C. – Duke student-athletes from seven varsity sports teams volunteered to kick off the 25th year of the “Read with the Blue Devils” (RWBD) program. The student-athletes visited nine Durham County elementary schools to share their stories, motivate the next generation of students to read, and spread the value of education. The RWBD program started off in October at Little River Elementary School, with Duke men’s basketball team members Jack White and Gary Trent visiting. Over the course of the fall semester, the RWBD program included representatives from the women’s track & field, women’s cross country, softball, rowing, baseball, men’s cross country and men’s basketball teams.
During each school visit, the student-athletes read one or two short stories to the elementary students followed by a question and answer session. The grade school students asked questions ranging from, “What was your favorite subject in elementary school?” to, “What sports did you play when they were growing up?” The RWBD program focuses on second and third grade students, and encourages them to read each night for a minimum of 20 minutes. Elementary students receive incentives as they complete each reading level. The incentives include Duke pencils, folders, posters, and tickets to Duke sporting events.
The RWBD program teams up with the Durham Sheriff’s Office to positively influence elementary school students on the benefits of positive choices. The Durham Sheriff Department’s Corporal Michael Jobe and Lieutenant Kimberley Lane begin each visit by discussing the consequences of good and bad choices. The officers reiterate how Duke student-athletes are students first, and work extremely hard to excel in the classroom and on the field. The RWBD program is one of the many ways in which Duke student-athletes are engaged in the Durham Community and provide servant leadership.