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Help Kristi Yamaguchi Tell Kids to Always Dream By Skating at San Jose's Seasonal Downtown Ice Rink

Kristi Yamiguchi Always Dream Foundation

Skating at the Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union and Alaska Airlines is more than a holiday tradition. It’s a place where children’s dreams crystalize and take shape.

A portion of the proceeds from the rink in downtown San Jose will benefit Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream, which puts books and modern technology into the hands of children from low-income families throughout the San Jose area and beyond.

It’s All About Reading

Always Dream focuses on "building awareness around the importance of in-home reading and empowering low-income families with the tools necessary to level the playing field," the skating star said on the organization’s website.

Kristi Yamaguchi is no stranger to San Jose or an ice rink. In 1992, she was the first Asian-American woman to win a gold medal in Winter Olympics competition. After that Gold-Medal performance in Albertville, France, she founded Always Dream, a non-profit organization that serves underprivileged, disabled and at-risk youth. In fact, 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream.

A primary program within Always Dream is Always Reading. This effort, which started in 2012, puts books and e-readers in the hands of kindergarteners and first graders. Not only do they use the materials and the technology in the classroom, but they also can take the readers home so their parents and families can get involved in reading, too.

The goal is to build a love of reading in kids and their families, because "when kids build a love of reading, they move from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn,’" according to the Always Dream website.

Beneficial Partnership Between Kristi Yamaguchi and Downtown Ice

That’s why San Jose’s Downtown Ice partnered with Always Dream to bring the Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union and Alaska Airlines to the community this holiday season. And that’s where YOU come in. When you skate at the rink, you make it possible for children and families in your community to find new worlds and opportunities in books.

This holiday season you can channel your inner Kristi Yamaguchi and glide over some of the best ice in the world (presented by Willy Bietak Productions) in the only ice rink on Earth encircled by 32 palm trees. And while you skate, you can hold your head high, put a wide smile on your face and think about families sitting around their kitchen tables reading and talking and bonding over some of the best children’s books ever published.

When those kids read, they begin to dream about a future that opens untold opportunities for them and their families.

Always Reading focuses on three pillars, like three legs of a stool:

First, high-quality books. Not only do families have access to an entire library of digital titles, but they also get physical copies of some books to keep. All the books are curated to fit into the Always Reading curriculum.

Second, 21st Century technology. Each student receives a digital tablet they can take home, and they even get internet access if they need it. As the students and families read, the tablet keeps track of their progress in each book and tallies the number of books, pages and minutes the child and family have spent reading.

Third, family engagement. Every family gets a “book coach” who trains the parents and children how to use the tablets, offers reading and literacy tips for parents and informs parents why family reading and book sharing are so important. Each coach is available to answer questions and handle any problems that crop up during the school year.

Always Reading partners with high-need schools and serves low-income families in Arizona, California and Hawaii. Why those three states? Hawaii is ranked 43rd in the United States for reading proficiency. Arizona is 45th and California is 46th. And in Hawaii, 68 percent of fourth graders are not reading proficiently. That’s 69 percent in California and 70 percent in Arizona.

By offering the tips and tools to bring reading into students’ lives, Always Dream strives to increase parent and caregiver knowledge of the benefits of family reading and increases families’ engagement with books. All while making it fun and easy for the students and their families.

So, delight in your session at Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union and Alaska Airlines and be proud that you’ve helped open the doors to a bright future for hundreds of children in your community.

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