"Wii for Seniors" read-a-thon a big success

Playing Wii at the Senior Center - photo by Carah Thomas
Playing Wii at the Senior Center - photo by Carah Thomas

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The Grand Marais Senior Center is a happening place, especially now that they have a brand new Nintendo Wii game and widescreen TV, courtesy of some caring Sawtooth Mountain Elementary third-graders. 
 
"Wii" (pronounced "wee") is an interactive video game for all ages. Picture yourself standing in front of a TV screen, holding a remote control-like device. You simulate the motion of bowling or swinging a tennis racket, for example, and your Mii (pronounced "mee"), which is your on screen, computer-generated identity, mirrors your movements. 
 
Betty Larsen and her granddaughter spent a fun morning together recently at the Grand Marais Senior Center in downtown Grand Marais.  “It’s spring break, so we’re playing the Wii and doing all kinds of stuff.”
 
Betty’s granddaughter Andrea is a third-grader at Sawtooth Mountain Elementary in Grand Marais. Her class raised the money to buy the Wii game for the Senior Center. They did it by getting pledges and keeping track of how many minutes they read during the month of February.  
 
The read-a-thon was organized by Heather Kemp. She’s a volunteer at Sawtooth Elementary and a member of the Minnesota Reading Corps.  “The Minnesota Reading Corps is kind of compared to the domestic Peace Corps,” says Kemp. “Instead of serving overseas, you’re serving your country here at home.”
 
As part of Kemp’s service with the Reading Corps, she needed to organize a service learning project in the community. She contacted several non-profits in the area, looking for a good project.  “The Grand Marais Senior Center responded to me with a lot of enthusiasm. They had an idea in mind, which was the fact that they would like to have a Wii down at the Senior Center. I brainstormed with the class about different ways we could raise money for this and they came up having a read-a-thon, and it just kind of took off from there. The goal of the class was just to read 10,000 minutes, outside the school, for the month of February. And the class, as a total, read over 14,000 minutes outside of class," said Kemp.
 
As a result, the read-a-thon raised more than the $400 they were hoping for. A lot more. In fact, they raised over a thousand dollars, and were able to buy a new widescreen TV for the Senior Center, to go along with the Wii Game. The Senior Center welcomes all ages to come and try out the new Wii game, and in early May, the third graders that did all that reading to buy the game and widescreen TV will visit the seniors for a celebration and to play a few games of Wii!
 

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