Social Distancing Inspires Literacy Project for Children in Recovery House

Posted May 06, 2020

Sue Constable, professor of literacy acquisition and instruction at Otterbein, is leading a project to keep kids engaged in learning in the time of social distancing. 

Professor Constable’s sabbatical project is providing 30 women with literacy kits for their infants and children. These women are in residential recovery houses supported by Alvis, Inc., a nonprofit human services agency whose services include research-based, comprehensive family support programs; behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services; recovery housing for women and their children; and services to individuals with developmental disabilities who are trying to live more independently in the community. Alvis serves nearly 8,000 men, women, young adults and children in Ohio each year. 

“One year ago, I began talking to Alvis Coordinator Julie Janson about the need to incorporate literacy into their child and family programs,” said Constable. “We both understood the importance of getting books into kid’s hands and the kits were the result once all the schools began shutting down.” 

The kits contain preschool-age books and additional learning materials for children. Constable is working with Alvis program leaders to deliver three ​different literacy ​kits across the next several weeks. Each kit has a different learning theme: colors, letters, and numbers. The kits are funded by Constable’s sabbatical funding from Otterbein, as well as support by Alvis. 

Literacy kits

“Otterbein has always embraced equity in resources and community service. This is a wonderful example of our institution living those values and ‘doing the most good,’” added Constable. 

Otterbein senior educational studies major Marissa Rogers is constructing the kits and developing the activities as part of her senior internship. Rogers is planning and preparing to use her degree to support young children and their families in the community.   

​Prior to COVID-19 social distancing enforcement, Rogers was working onsite at Alvis, assisting with parenting classes and a Saturday family program. Since the programs were shut down as a result of COVID-19, she has worked with Constable and Alvis Coordinator Julie Janson to develop a plan for bringing literacy into the homes of children. This is how the literacy kit idea was born — the reality of social distancing was the perfect starting point.