Lambert Cousins Run for Literacy: 826 Boston, and Why Empowering Underserved Kids with Literature is So Important


So Your Kid Doesn’t Like to Read

I fell in love with my imagination the moment I touched a book, and I was fortunate to grow up with loving parents who entertained my ceaseless pleas for “just one more” bedtime story.

But not everybody loves to read as a child. Or teen. Or adult.

Take my dad. As a boy, he hated reading. Sitting. Staring at words. What was the purpose? Why did his teachers bug him about reading when he could play outside, where it was way more fun, and he could throw a baseball, shoot hoops, or hit some hockey pucks? Reading…writing…that stuff took time; it was boring. My dad—the kid—wanted nothing to do with it.

Enter his elementary school teacher. Concerned with my dad’s disinterest, and observant of his love for spots, one teacher wedged an ESPN magazine in his hands. Here was something Dad’s passions and interests could relate to: big time sports players like Ted Williams inducted into the hall of fame, Mickey Mantle hitting his 500thhomerun, Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters and the British Open, and boxing legends like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier ducking it out for the title of heavyweight champion. These stories—sports stories—shared people and events my dad related to; they reported articles that he couldn’t wait to read.

Today, my dad loves to read. Nonfiction and historical mostly, but he’s reached a stage where he actually likes getting books for birthday and holiday gifts (#secrethooray!).

And yet, maybe none of this would have happened if it weren’t for that teacher, years gone passed, who looked at my dad and thought, “how can I get this boy to like reading?”

My dad was lucky to have an unconventional thinker like her, but not all students get the same advantages or privileges that he experienced.

Which leaves me this question: if kids and teens don’t have someone in his/her life to teach/encourage them to read and write—not because it’s a required school assignment but because a child/teen can learn something about his or her desires, beliefs, wants, and passions from reading and writing stories—then how can we except kids to grow up with the courage to speak…to use voices instead of fists?

Can we stop hate by empowering traditionally underserved children and teens to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills needed to succeed in school and in life?

Lambert Cousins Run for Literacy

If you haven’t heard of 826 National, it’s an amazing nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that does exactly this: empowers traditionally underserved students 6-18 with free programs that teach creative writing and publishing skills. Structured around the understanding that “great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention” and that “strong writing skills are fundamental to future success,” these small buildings located in eight major cities (including NYC, LA, CHI, DC, and Boston) provide FREE after-school tutoring, help ELL students (English Language Learners), and guide in-depth publishing projects that turn student work into tangible, printed books.

Interested in learning more? Read about 826 Boston’s 2016-2021 Visions and Strategy.

With each FREE program, students learn how to express their individual voices and ideas effectively, creatively, and confidently. Programs like 826 are putting the power of creative education back into the student’s hands and heart.

But while volunteers and employees at 826 National locations strive to provide students these opportunities, they still need funds to make programs and publishing happen.

Which is why my cousin Michael and I decided we wanted to do something cool to help out one of the locations in our hometown—826 Boston: we’re running the Niagara Falls Half Marathon!

With a goal of $2,000, we have one month until race time, and while training is challenging, fundraising can sometimes pose a bigger feat.

So if you’ve read this far—and share our joy in the gift of empowering underserved students—join us as we raise money for this selfless, transformative organization.


How You Can Help

We’re running for literacy! If you’d like to give a gift to 826 Boston, awesome! If you don’t, no problem, we’re so happy you read this far and learned a little bit about this cool nonprofit organization. Check out some of the student work, or give a kid or teen a nice hug and encouraging word instead.

For all those who do want to donate, it’s easy! Just head over to Michael and my Lambert Cousins Run for Literacy Page on the 826 Boston site. And thank you, thank you, thank you for your generous gift!

“Every day, my cousin approached the entrance of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), but one day, her sandals broke. She looked ahead, to the sides, and behind her to see if anyone was looking, then jumping step by step, she quickly finished going inside. Then she took both of her shoes off and began to walk without making eye contact with anyone. She knew people were looking at her, but she thought, ‘I am not here to pay attention to what other people think about me; I am here to learn and grow more from every lesson.’ She was full of determinación.” — Tirsianiin Like the Sun in Dark Spaces (student from the graduating class of 2018 from the Boston International Newcomers Academy)



“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela