Program Combats Dyslexia

by Kirsten May
Courtesy of A-State Department of Media

JONESBORO — City Youth Ministries is a non-profit organization that helps children in the community improve their academic achievement through a number of programs and events. And they’ve recently added to those programs. Kirsten May explains how they plan to improve student literacy.

City Youth Ministries Executive Director Denise Snider said studies show one in five people struggle with hearing sounds because of dyslexia.

Snider, a former teacher, is introducing the Orton Gillingham program called “Connections” to students at City Youth who fail a dyslexia screener.

The connections curriculum moves away from paper and pencil, and helps children learn the phonetic rules using tactile or 3-D objects. Being able to finally comprehend those rules and learn to read can help children with self-esteem issues related to school.

That confidence boost has been big for 6-year-old twins Sophia and Isabella Topalian.

Kimberly Topalian said her girls thrived while in a pilot classroom where Snider taught connections to first grade students.

She said she thinks the style of teaching used in connections would be beneficial to any child.
And thanks to a grant from Nucor-Yomata Steel, City Youth Ministries will now be able to offer it, free of charge, to more kids in need.

Snider said they are still doing the screeners right now, but hope to start teaching the curriculum by the end of the year.

Topalian said Brookland Elementary does not use connections in the classroom anymore, which is something her family is fighting to bring back. Right now, her girls continue going to private therapy to improve their reading.