Approximately 6,000 students from 55 schools in Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Grant, Madison, Montgomery, Scott, and Woodford counties are in enrolled in this year’s Kentucky Horse Park Literacy Program, which combines horse-themed books and experiences with live horses to inspire a life-long love of horses and reading.
To date, the program has distributed in excess of 22,000 books to more than 15,000 first- and fourth- grade children in 11 counties. One of the goals of the Kentucky Horse Park Literacy Program is to expand to other grades to broaden literacy and the love of horses to a greater number of schools in more counties.
This year, the program introduced "War Horse," by Michael Morpurgo, to fourth-graders, prior to the opening of the feature film based on the book. The literacy program will culminate with the live equine show at the park that will complement the book’s storyline.
Among the show’s performers will be two international professional equestrian showmen. Dan James, of Australia, and Clay Maier, of the U.S., will perform for the students with their exquisitely trained horses. First Lady Jane Beshear will also participate.
"As an admirer and supporter of both literacy and the equine industry, I am truly pleased to see thousands of Kentucky students taking advantage of this unique opportunity at the Kentucky Horse Park," Mrs. Beshear said. "The Horse Park is an asset to central Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth, and I want to thank them for sponsoring quality community programs like this one, and I encourage even more students to get involved in this project next year."
Also, while Morpurgo’s "War Horse" is based on a fictional horse, the exploits of a genuine war hero, a mare named Sgt. Reckless, who worked with the Marines in Korea, will be remembered and honored during the show.
The Kentucky Horse Park Literacy Program is a project of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and is funded entirely through private donations and led by a dedicated group of community volunteers. The program's 2011-2012 sponsors include: Kentucky Bank; Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky; UKHealthCare Kentucky Children’s Hospital; Kentucky Thoroughbred Association; PNC Foundation; CaféPress Inc.; and the Little Foundation.
Editor’s note: The photo (above) is of one of Clay Maier’s horses and is available for use with this press release. Photo by www.jennifermunson.com.