As part of the national Day of Action, United Way is excited to draw attention to the importance of early grade reading and healthy eating.

When you hear the term “Summer Slide,” you envision lazy afternoons racing down the slide or taking a fun ride into the pool. In education, the “Summer Slide” actually describes what happens when young minds sit idle for three months.

As parents approach the summer break, many are thinking about vacations, trips to the pool, new schedules—and how to juggle it all. What they might not be focusing on is how much educational ground their children could lose during the three-month break from school, particularly when it comes to reading.

Members of ­United Way’s Young Leaders United were at Plymouth Park recently to refresh the Born Learning Trail that connects the Fun Zone with Plymouth Pool. This interactive trail helps to boost school readiness with nine engaging games that are placed along the trail to reinforce learning and promote physical activity.

On Wednesday, June 22nd over 30 Young Leaders will be partnering with Midland Public Schools Summer Food Service Program to Meet Up, Eat Up and Read Up.

“Children will enjoy a free healthy meal, a book to take home and an opportunity to spend time reading with a caring adult,” shared Tina Malzahn from Midland Public Schools.

United Way will also be installing a Free Little Library at Plymouth Park, to ensure that all area children have access to books. Kids are encouraged to take a book or leave a book all year long. The Library is generously sponsored by Midland Exchange Club and supported by the City of Midland.

This week also kicks off United Way’s summer partnership with Floyd Elementary. The school is working with 20 at-risk students in each grade to offer an innovative Summer Learning Camp tailored to their needs. This includes academics, reading, fun activities, free bus transportation, along with breakfast and lunch each day.

To enhance their efforts, United Way is partnering with five local businesses to invest time reading to kids each week and creating fun activities and games to make learning fun. This week employees from Members First Credit Union will be out at Floyd, followed by Wolverine Bank, Trinseo, Yeo & Yeo and Aptar.

“What a great illustration of our community coming together for change,” shared Ann Fillmore. “Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success, and it is crucial to reach kids early. We are honored to collaborate with so many organizations committed to the long-term success of our children.”