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Change the world; help educate the worlds children

Daily Staff ReportVail CO, Colorado
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The Vail Chapter of Room to Read will be hosting its first annual Book Scootin Boogie event at the Gourmet Cowboy in Minturn on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. This event will be a country and western honky-tonk themed, ticketed event. It will feature live music, dancing, hearty appetizers, and a prize raffle and will include drink coupons for the bar for only $35. All proceeds will benefit Room to Read.

To date, Room to Read has created over 5,000 schools and libraries for impoverished children in the developing world. Room to Read was founded by John Wood in 1998, and was recently recognized by the Clinton Global Imitative. John was on the Oprah Winfrey show this past spring and has won many awards including Time Magazines coveted Asian Heroes award; he was the only non-Asian to win. Vail Chapter leader Robert Aikens, owner of Verbatim Booksellers in Vail, saw John speak at an event in Denver last year. When John asked where the next chapter would be, Robert overwhelmingly shouted, Vail! Its easier to do more on a global scale when youve got the American dollar on your side, Aikens said, Room to Read can build and dedicate a library for around $10,000; much cheaper and more easily stainable than here in the states. These libraries serve up to 1,000 students and are filled with 500 to 1,000 local language and English books. Funding the construction of a new school is between $15,000 and $35,000. Each school has three to six classrooms and provides a new or improved learning environment for several hundred students. Aikens thinks the Vail community should lead the way and fund at least one school in each country that Room to Read is in.

Aikens teamed up with Diana Mathias of Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate and helped bring John Wood to Vail. The first fundraiser was a year ago and raised almost $20,000 in one evening. John returned in the spring of this year to captivate an audience at a Vail Symposium event; the Vail Chapter started to solidify at that point. Aikens goal was $500,000 for 2007. In this first year, the chapter raised a formidable $300,000, not including this winter event. There is a vast dichotomy between boys and girls with regard to education in the world today, said Mathias who just toured the Room to Read progress in Vietnam. If a poor family has the money to educate one of its children, it will be a boy in the hopes that he will one day get a good job and send money back to the family. Although noble, this is somewhat inefficient. If you educate a young girl, she will in turn educate her children. Youve essentially educated generations. While Room to Read is an equal opportunity educator, it does offer special scholarships for girls through its Room to Grow projects. Twenty five hundred dollars will fund up to 10 years of girls scholarships in many countries. Helping this cause is something thats easy to do; even if youre not rich, says Stephen Porter of The Inn and Suites at Riverwalk Property Management Company in Edwards. … We live in a small world; we all share the same home. Kids all over need our help … why cant we help both students, local and abroad? We (Room to Read) are in Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and South Africa and next year we move into South America. We are teaching them to fish; education is a proactive cause in which we help the next generation. We cant allow ourselves to ignore childrens education just because they live overseas; we cant be myopic in our approach, weve got to look at the big picture.For more information, call Stephen Porter at 376-7307.


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