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B.E.A.R. Buddies

Being Engaged to Achieve Reading

At Niswonger Children’s Hospital, we realize that a lot of things influence the health of the people in our region. And one of the most important ways we can improve the health of our community is through our children.

We’ve established the Children’s Resource Center to support child-related safety, learning, wellness and advocacy for children’s issues. Through the center, our patients, friends and community partners can help people through development and outreach programs, such as B.E.A.R. Buddies.


Be a B.E.A.R. Buddies volunteer

If you would like to mentor a child – or if you think your child could benefit from B.E.A.R. Buddies – please contact us:


What is the B.E.A.R. Buddies program?

The B.E.A.R. Buddies (Being Engaged to Achieve Reading) program pairs high school students with elementary students who need a boost in reading skills.

Buddies meet weekly to work on reading skills. Older students gain mentoring and leadership abilities, and serve as positive role models.

Resources include:

  • School assignments
  • Fun reading
  • Materials developed by Scholastic, Inc. (a trusted resource for literary educational materials for kids)

Our goal

The goal of B.E.A.R. Buddies is to improve reading skills for children in grades 1 through 3 who are 6 months below standard reading levels for their age.

In partnership with local elementary schools, students are identified by teachers and meet weekly with their high-school mentors at the elementary school.

B.E.A.R. Buddies also extends to the families of the elementary students. Since family literacy affects health and well-being for both kids and adults, parents are encouraged to get involved with their children’s education.

Where can you find B.E.A.R. Buddies?

B.E.A.R. (Being Engaged to Achieve Reading) Buddies is in place at elementary schools and community centers in our region.

Positive response and continued growth

The response has been very positive, with schools reporting the program helps with behavior and increases reading time for the elementary students who participate.

Our mentors say their time in the program is well spent, offering them leadership opportunities as well as a chance to give back to the community.

The B.E.A.R. Buddies program continues to grow through donations and sponsorships from our community partners and businesses.

Our future is bright.

Family literacy makes a big difference in people’s lives – and in their long-term health.

When children learn to read at an appropriate level they find it easier to get educated, find good jobs, stay financially stable and live a healthy lifestyle.

Reading habits are often passed on from one generation to the next.

Get involved

To volunteer or learn more about the B.E.A.R. Buddies youth reading program, please contact the Children’s Resource Center.

Call (423) 431-4875 or email crcinfo@balladhealth.org for more information.

Or learn more about the Children’s Resource Center.