STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -- A Stevens Point teenager with a love of reading is recognized for her volunteer efforts to help parents begin reading to their children -- even as babies.
Rachel Ley, a senior at Stevens Point Area Senior High, said as a grade school student she noticed some of her classmates struggled with reading and decided to do something about it.
After studying literacy issues, Ley said she learned that good reading skills often start at a young age. She decided she wanted to help make that happen by ensuring that parents of newborns had books available to read to their children from the start.
In 2009, Ley applied for a grant and received $500 to start "Literacy for Little Ones" at Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point.
Before they go home, parents of newborns now receive a book and a letter about the importance of reading .
She says hundreds of volunteers have helped her along the way as thousands of families have received books when they left the hospital.
"Literacy for Little Ones" is now available at five hospitals in Wisconsin, one in Minnesota and another in Managua, Nicaragua.
Since the program started, Ley has received numerous honors for her efforts.