Beginning in February of 2015, a unique group of readers began meeting at College Library every Monday evening. Modeled after Ohio State’s “Next Chapter Book Club,” members of Badgers for Special Olympics hosted a weekly session for 5 to 8 people with disabilities from the community, along with four student facilitators. The four UW-Madison students, Natalie Boudos, John McKevitt, Makenna Potter and Sarah Maule helped the participants work their way through Charles Dickens’ classic tale, Oliver Twist.
John, who joined BFSO after helping with a different Special Olympics event last year, decided to participate in the book club because it was an opportunity to see the same people every week and build relationships. He reports, “After a few preliminary sessions with little interaction outside of reading the book, we eventually began to share stories from our weeks, most even getting there fifteen minutes early so we could socialize before the session began.” The last meeting of the semester was April 27th and with it John’s observation that “after seeing the monumental improvements in confidence with vocabulary as well as comfort reading out loud, I knew we had accomplished our goal.” All of the students look forward to working with participants in semesters to come.