As most kids across the area are getting ready for summer vacation, they're excited to put down the books. But one Stevens Point teen is looking forward to picking the books back up, and it's not in the way you're probably expecting.
At first glance, Rachel Ley looks like your typical teenager. So while she may walk through the halls at Saint Michael's, just like everyone else, that's where a lot of the similarities end. The reason, these four words: "Literacy for Little Ones".
She's devoted much of her free time to a massive volunteer effort, which focuses mainly on Saint Claire's Ministry Hospital in Weston. "Every baby born at the hospital receives the book package, which includes a children's book and a letter that I wrote explaining why it's so important to start reading at a young age" says Ley.
And we're talking about a lot of babies, 2,000 of them and counting so far. "My friends come over and we package up the books and take them to the hospital" says Ley.
So why would this 15 year old care what newborn babies she doesn't even know are doing? For the answer, she has to look no further than when she was a newborn herself. "My mom had me on what she called a 10 book a day diet when I was an infant" Ley says. "I've always been ahead in reading and I'm in Advanced English now. I feel it's been such a great opportunity because of my mom and I want other kids to have that same opportunity."
On top of the educational benefits, Rachel says you can't forget the emotional ones. "I think it creates a super special bond. You get to know your parents' voice as an infant. I just love seeing the smile on someone's face when I can go in and give them a book or just help them out."
It's that attitude many hope is contagious: a big idea from a girl with a big heart, hoping to make a big difference...one small baby at a time.