2013 Big Wanda Book Giveaway

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Re: Group of Literacy Advocates Donate 500 Safety Books To Youth

NEW ORLEANS, LA (October 16, 2013)The Big Wanda Book Giveaway is sponsored by Team Happy Foundation (THF), Big Easy Kiwanis Club, Lower 9 Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, Royal Engineers, Urban Strategies, Inc. and Lindy Boggs Center for Community Literacy. The sponsors are awarding 500 Big Wanda safety books to local youth.

• 1 in 4 New Orleans children live in poverty.
• Ratio of books in poor neighborhoods: 1 book per 300 children.
• Access to books is the most significant barrier to literacy development.
(Sources: 2010 Census, Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement)

The Big Wanda Book Giveaway serves as an opportunity for underserved children to take a new book home and discuss the importance of building a disaster plan with their family and friends. When youth are equipped with first aid skills and basic emergency communication techniques, they help their household become safer and our community more resilient. 
[2012 photos] 

The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda, written by Happy Johnson, foreword by Lt. General Russel Honore’ and illustrated by Joe Badon, teaches youth how to prepare for Hurricane Season, which officially starts June 1 and ends November 30.

Tuesday, May 21: Gentilly Terrace Elementary School received 50 books;
Friday, June 28: New Hope Baptist Church Summer Enrichment Program received 50 books;
Thursday, July 11: Children’s Defense Fund – Freedom School Summer Session received 75 books;
Wednesday, November 20: James M. Singleton Elementary School received 200 books.
Saturday, November 23: 2-Cent Literacy & Arts Fest received 50 books.

Additionally, to date this summer, Craig Elementary School, All Souls Episcopal Church After School Program, Christian Unity Baptist Church 21st Century Youth Success Program and Lower 9th Ward Children’s Book Parade have received a combined total of 75 books.

THF has worked with the above mentioned schools and community development organizations throughout the year. Now is the time for families to prepare in lieu of the annual Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26: Exempt from the 4% state sales tax are batteries, flashlights, cell-phone chargers and coolers. Seventeen hurricanes and six tropical storms since 1956 have resulted in federal disaster declarations for Louisiana, demonstrating the need for innovative approached to youth preparedness.

The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda (ages 6-10) is a fictional picture book about an adopted teen who plays the trumpet for his high school marching band. The protagonist also drives Big Wanda – the name of a rusty old pick-up truck fueled by vegetable oil. Driving to a snowball stand before the start of an unexpected storm, Happy and Big Wanda’s perennial preparedness enables them to help their neighbors with disaster supplies made from recycled material.

The interactive book includes a hurricane preparedness checklist, word search, fill-in-the-blank, coloring pages and safety pledge; it also serves as the curriculum core for the THF Youth Preparedness Program which has equipped more than four thousand youth with disaster readiness skills.

Happy Johnson drove an Emergency Response Vehicle amid the aftermath of the worst natural disaster in American history.  

An exceptional keynote speaker, Johnson is Chief Executive Officer of Team Happy Foundation (THF), which he co-founded following his service as a first responder in December 2005. THF has mobilized thousands of volunteers to rebuild homes throughout New Orleans and distributed emergency blankets to earthquake-stricken hospitals in Haiti.

Expanding upon its initial mission, THF mentors at-risk youth and publishes children’s books about hurricane preparedness and coastal restoration. The displacement of ‘Katrina kids’ reflected Johnson’s adolescent journey though foster care, fueling his desire to help sustain the Big Easy for future generations. Co-host of GoNOLA TV and author, his favorite activity is coaching junior league basketball.

Johnson has appeared on CNN and C-SPAN and been featured in the American Red Cross 125th Anniversary Magazine, BBC World News, USA Today and Wall Street Journal. TIME Magazine highlights his leadership in the nationwide high school history textbook: Civics Today. A former White House Intern, Johnson received his B.A. from Georgetown University and Management Certificate from Columbia University’s Center for Disaster Preparedness. 

For individual sales to support the mission of THF, click book atop or visit: www.TeamHappy.org
Media Contact: Grace Fary: Info@TeamHappy.org or (504)315-5084


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