Last year Davis and I met a child named David who was in the second grade and unable to read the word "the." Truly. There were days when we would spend 45 minutes on one word. In those moments, think we were more tired than he was willing to continue.
We worked with him for months, often feeling discouraged by each days work. But, as the days added up, there was a clear pattern of improvement. So, I am very proud to tell you that he was (and still is) able to read at a third grade reading level by the time he entered third grade. As heart warming as that is, there are many others who cannot read at their grade level, and many who don't have any motivation to do so.
All of us - in some regard - grow up in a bubble. That is a term often used with those of greater means to imply they have come to expect that life only works a certain way. But, expecting that life only works a certain way can happen in any environment.
(Side note: this is not to say that people cannot change or desire something different. What I am trying to say is that never experiencing a different way of life can create expectations and beliefs in us we might not even be aware of.)
For many of the kids (and adults) we work with, there is an expectation that life will most likely not get any better than what it is today. And, 'today', is utter poverty with all of its nastiness.
So, imagine for a moment that you are a child or adult in that environment, and you want something better but you don't believe you can ever have it. My question for you - in that state of mind - is this: why would you want to learn how to read? Why get a job? What good will it do you in that environment?
We need to expand people's capacity for dreaming. One way to do that is with healthy options. Exposing people to other ways of life and reinforcing "this is for you, too!"
That is what happened for David. And, today he is a great reader with a bright future who also happens to be a very talented artist.