Education

Ryan the Lion delights young Detroit readers

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Sebastian and Miguel were in for a surprise: Ryan the Lion wanted to meet them!

Sebastian, a first grader at Old Redford Academy, and Miguel, a fourth grader at Davison Elementary, were adoring fans of a new TV show from the Michigan Learning Channel, created by W.K. Kellogg Foundation grantee, Detroit Public Television (DPTV). “Read, Write, Roar!” is a literacy educational program developed in response to disparities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19-induced school closures. Sebastian and Miguel watched the programs at home in Detroit and told all their friends to watch Ryan the Lion and use the related activities.

DPTV worked with Miguel’s and Sebastian’s schools to surprise them both, arriving with Ryan the Lion for his first venture outside the studio. As Ryan the Lion entered the classrooms, he was greeted with shrieks of joy, high-fives and hugs. Watch the fantastic surprise:

When the COVID-19 pandemic moved education online in March 2020, DPTV and its partners quickly recognized the extra burden this would create for Detroit’s children and families. It was estimated that 85 to 90% of the city’s public school students lacked access to devices and the internet to continue learning at home as their counterparts in the nearby suburbs could do. In response, many organizations in Detroit came together to remove that barrier to learning through a program called Connected Futures, and DPTV redesigned their education website, created a daily newsletter of learning resources and then created the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC).

MLC is a no-cost, statewide public television partnership offering curriculum-aligned weekly programs and accompanying resources to teachers and pre-K-12 students in English language arts, science, health and fitness, and social and emotional learning. In July 2021 alone, MLC reached more than 450,000 people. Additionally, DPTV distributed more than 30,000 summer learning guides to preschool through sixth grade students around the state in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and Detroit’s Community Education Commission (CEC).

A grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supported the creation and launch of this unique resource. The grant focused additional resources on the East Side of Detroit, which has a limited number of quality early childhood education (ECE) center-based options and, therefore, a higher number of informal providers serving Detroit’s young children and families. DPTV worked with an array of partners, including Hope Starts Here, Brilliant Detroit, Black Family Development, and Detroit Parent Network, to ensure broad promotion and support of the resources.

Have Sebastian and Miguel convinced you too? Be like Sebastian! Be like Miguel! Join Ryan the Lion for Read, Write, Roar! on the Michigan Learning Channel!

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