BY DEAN MOSES
A local McDonald’s owner and operator sought to make the school year, filled with remote lessons and unusual schedules, a little easier and fun for students through a slew of book donations.
Dubbed “Happy Meal Readers,” students in elementary schools throughout New York City were treated to an array of books focusing on dinosaurs during their after school program with New York Edge via Zoom on Oct. 21.
New York Edge is a Queens-based after school program. Partnering with McDonald’s Owner/Operator Linda Dunham and in conjunction with the Netflix animated feature Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, New York Edge was able to continue its longstanding work providing educational materials for thousands of students from over 100 schools.
The virtual event brought many of these children together on one screen from the comfort of their classrooms. Some of the young students participated through personal computers while others sat in groups on one large screen. The meeting was hosted by NY Edge CEO Rachael Gazdick, who introduced herself and Dunham to the classes.
Dunham described the Happy Meal Readers initiative, which was created to help motivate students as they adjust to the new normal of virtual learning.
“We know that the last several months have been really challenging for students throughout New York City. McDonald’s is really excited to share our Happy Meal Readers with New York Edge,” Dunham said. “These Happy Meal Readers were launched to help celebrate the new animated action-adventure series feature Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous on Netflix in September. These booklets feature various prehistoric beasts with fun facts and interactive pages. We hope you will enjoy these activities.”
Through this book collection, scholars can participate in collaborative group reading activities in which they discover fun facts about dinosaurs that once roamed the earth millions of years ago.
After the adults discussed the logistics of the program, it was time for the kids to take center stage and talk about their excitement to participate in it.
One student waved his arms widely, barely able to contain his thoughts.
“I think the book is a cool book, and it is so inspirational about dinosaurs,” he said.
Next, another student filled the Zoom screen, where he expressed his love for books filled with the extinct creatures.
“I think the book was really good because I like the dinosaurs and it is my favorite,” said the five-year-old, who added “My favorite dinosaur is triceratops!”
The meeting culminated as the children prepared to complete one of the many dinosaur activities in their new books.
Also attending the meeting was a representative from Councilman Donovan Richards’ office, who underscored the importance of literacy and supporting youth programs.