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August 1, 2002

Governor Ryan Encourages Illinois Children to Participate in Reading, Education Activities at the State Fair

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the expansion of the successful Illinois Reading Passport program at the Illinois State Fair. Through a generous donation from Verizon, the “Future Factor” computer program has been added this year to include a learning game on higher education for 11-16 year olds.

“Last year, this program was very popular with more than 10,000 children completing their passports,” Governor Ryan said. “It is an excellent way for children to develop an interest in reading while still enjoying a fun family day at the fair.”

More than 25,000 children participated in the Illinois Reading Passport program at the 2001 State Fair. Last year, the program served children ten and under and provided every participant a book he or she selected. The Future Factor program was created this year for children age 11-16.

Through the Illinois Reading Passport program, children have the opportunity to visit various state agency tents or “ports” around the fair to participate in fun reading-related activities. After completing each activity the child receives a stamp on his or her Passport. After obtaining five stamps, he or she is then invited back to the Governor’s tent to choose a free book from a selection of 20 different books, ranging from “Clifford” to “Harry Potter”.

This year the Reading Passport Program is expanding to include 11-16 year olds through a $21,000 donation from Verizon’s “Check into Literacy” Foundation. Verizon’s contribution is allowing Illinois READS to create a game called “Future Factor.” “Future Factor” is an interactive computer game located in Tech Town that will help students plan for their future. The participants are asked a number of questions dealing with different aspects of Illinois’ higher education program. The purpose of this game is to inform these older students of their options regarding higher education. After completing “Future Factor” the participant will receive a backstage pass to take to the Governor’s tent to pick out a book or magazine of their choice.

“Verizon is tickled to be able to help children discover the joy of reading by being part of the state fair ‘Passport’ program, said James R. Hargrave, assistant vice president - public policy and external affairs for Verizon. “Promoting the cause of literacy is a top priority for Verizon.”

Over the past three years Governor Ryan has established a nationally recognized literacy program, Illinois READS, dedicated to advancing the reading level of all children in the State of Illinois. Illinois READS’ progress in the advancement of literacy in Illinois’ youth was recognized by the International Reading Association with the first ever five-star reading award for the creation of the program.

The State Fair runs August 9 through August 18.


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