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The Town of Mount Pleasant has received a Municipal Achievement Award for Reading Patrol. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 18. The town won in the communications category. Twenty-nine cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
Two police officers partnered with the town's communications staff to host the Reading Patrol. Held on the third Saturday of every month, the Reading Patrol is a free program for children ages 4–11. After officers read several stories, the children enjoy arts and crafts.
The planning process for Reading Patrol was two-pronged. Officers developed business relationships, solicited sponsorships, scheduled readers and selected monthly reading themes. The town's communications office designed flyers, generated press releases and engaged the public on many media platforms. Funding for the project was minimal. Local businesses donated giveaway bags and craft materials.
To promote even more face-to-face interaction between police and children, Mount Pleasant created a reward system called the Buddy Card. Reading Patrol participants collect officers" signatures on their Buddy Cards. Once their card has ten signatures, the children can redeem them for a prize.
To date, officers have hosted 14 readings and reached out to more than 400 children. Young readers have redeemed 57 Buddy Cards after gathering 570 signatures from officers. Mount Pleasant's communications department regularly posts pictures and videos of the events on Facebook where grateful parents regularly comment.
"Reading Patrol and its Buddy Card program is a wonderful way to engage children and their parents with local police officers in a positive and thoughtful way," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.