The Big Read made us grow and thrive

Kudos to the LLCC Academy of Lifelong Learning for sponsoring the NEA Big Read Sangamon County. As one participant said, "This has been a good project to have during this pandemic. We have needed something to take our minds to another place.... This whole thing has really been expansive for me."

The organizers distributed 1,235 copies of the book, Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. With the support of over 115 volunteers, they also gave away 425 youth garden kits, held numerous book discussion groups and partnered with 58 organizations to host 84 events, both virtually and in person during March and April. Programs and events related to the many themes in the book – nature, science, trees, curiosity, research, mental health and the challenges women face in a man's world.

The Big Read encouraged people to read and visit their local library. It helped people learn to be less apprehensive about science and understand more about scientific research across diverse fields. It provided opportunities to talk about mental health issues. It promoted an interest in STEM careers and an understanding of the challenges faced by women in science. And, it helped inspire a community to the importance of lifelong learning. Thanks to the many organizations that participated, the many volunteers who made it possible and the many local citizens who took time to learn more about our community and the world around us.

"We have needed this opportunity to learn how much we gain by helping one another grow and thrive," said one of the participants.

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