YouTube used as a young reader teaching tool by Florida students

The Canterbury students’ PageTurner initiative begins at the Guadalupe Center

Fort Myers-based company BelieveNBooks has launched a new initiative, PageTurner, to help preschoolers become better readers from a young age.

PageTurner is a YouTube channel featuring videos of Southwest Florida teenagers reading children’s books. The students are provided with appropriate books that enable them to read together with their digital reading partners.

Thanks to BelieveNBooks, which aims to provide children with books to broaden their horizons and improve their understanding of the world, more than 115 students received backpacks containing 10 books each, including titles like Clifford Makes the Team , If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Flat Stanley Goes Camping and more. The parents received a postcard with a QR code for quick access to the YouTube video library.

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“I loved getting to know each of the children and hearing their comments on the books they received,” said BelieveNBooks founder Natasha Agarwal, a 15-year-old freshman at Canterbury School. “It was incredible to see their reactions when they opened their bags and realized everyone was allowed to take the books home. You don’t always get the chance to see the people you’re helping, so it was all the more rewarding to be there, handing out the books and getting to know each of the children.”

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Shortly after launching BelieveNBooks in 2021, the organization made more than 3,500 books available to students at the Guadalupe Center after a two-week book drive at Canterbury School. Since then, the organization has supported reading programs through more than a dozen nonprofit partners throughout Southwest Florida.

The first PageTurner series includes 10 books and corresponding videos, and Agarwal plans to expand the library with additional community support and perhaps expand PageTurner into a statewide or national program. For more information about BelieveNBooks or to support the PageTurner initiative, please visit or email [email protected]

love this dress! Event raises funds for Pace Center

Pace Center for Girls, Lee’s popular fundraiser Love That Dress!, has raised $130,000 to support Pace Lee programs.

Described as the ultimate feel-good shopping spree of the year, Love That Dress! August 24th saw shopping, music, silent auctions and cocktails at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Estero, where a collection of quality brand new boutique and gently used clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories were sold at deeply discounted prices.

Proceeds from the event provide academic programs and counseling services for girls and young women ages 11-18 working to address risk factors such as poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, foster care, neglect, bereavement, incarceration of a family member, mental health; and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Pace Lee also brought Pace girls to join the Love That Dress! Fun August 25th and offers the girls a special shopping session with opportunities to dress up, shop and have a day of fun.

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To learn more about Pace Lee and his programs, visit or call 239-425-2366.

Alliance gifted sculpture from ArtFest Fort Myers

Alliance for the Arts would like to announce its newest addition to the ever-evolving Sculpture Park. Flotsam was gifted thanks to an ArtFest program that gives older artworks a second life.

Flotsam was created by artist Donald Gialenalla, an artist specializing in the design and manufacture of public art. Known for his larger than life sculptures in public and private collections across the United States, his work is installed in over a dozen cities from California to New York and now on the Alliance for the Arts campus. His background includes teaching art at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey and 10 years as an Emmy-winning TV graphics producer in New York City.

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Standing 11 feet tall and 20 feet long, Flotsam was created in the studio and shipped to site as a finished sculpture. It was originally featured in ArtFest’s We Are Overflowing, an art exhibition created to show the environmental issue and the beauty that comes from upcycling discarded materials. The original installation consisted of a surrounding 3 foot high round low fence about 25 feet in diameter in which visitors placed their empty bottles and cans to fill the ‘ocean’ around it and the wheels and struts covered with a sea of ​​bottles. Beachcomb was made from repurposed plastic and recycled items, firmly attached to a painted wooden fixture with rustproof hardware.

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Located on McGregor and Royal Palm Boulevards, the Alliance for the Arts Sculpture Park is free and open to the public.

Elite DNA Behavioral Health collects 4,200 school supplies

Elite DNA Behavioral Health, a comprehensive provider of behavioral and mental health care, recently hosted a Back-to-School Supplies Drive, raising 4,200 school supplies to help area students prepare for the new school year.

The month-long collection took place at Elite DNA’s 20+ offices across the state and collected a number of essential school supplies including notebooks, college and broad ruled paper, pocket files, staplers, pens, #2 and crayons, pink erasers, highlighters , pencil cases, student scissors, glue sticks, wired headphones, disinfectant wipes and more. The fundraiser benefited students in schools in Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Duval, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota and Seminole counties.

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