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Pocatello aims to inspire young readers to become future city leaders

Linda Leeuwrik reads ‘FRIENDS City’ to a group of third-graders. | Logan Ramsey,
POCATELLO — Elementary school students learned about the functions of municipal government as a part of an event called Readers Becoming Leaders.
Third-grade students from Tendoy Elementary found their school parking lot occupied by city vehicles like a fire engine, a sanitation truck and police cars among others on Wednesday. Afterward, City Council President Linda Leeuwrik read them a book called “FRIENDS City.”
“I love the opportunity to come in and meet with young people because the more we can teach them about our community and how it works, the better our community can be,” Leeuwrik said.
The event is put on by the Association of Idaho Cities, and has the aim of educating children about important city functions, like garbage collection and firefighting. The book also promotes learning in STEM and literacy.
The way that Leeuwrik sees it, having the students get hands-on time with city vehicles before they read helps deepen their understanding of the material.
“They’re honking horns and hearing sirens, and they love that,” Leeuwrik said. “But then to go from that into here and read the book… they start to connect that’s what those guys do. They’re not just fun guys that were out there letting me honk the horn. They actually have a serious job.”
Leeuwrik said that having the students learn the material helps them understand “how the sausage gets made” in running a city.
“When you’re in your house and you turn on the tap and water comes out, you just take that for granted, but there’s a whole series of things that have to happen to make that happen,” Leeuwrik said.
Although the program hasn’t existed long enough for participating students to grow old enough to take charge of the city, Leeuwrik thinks that’s something that could happen eventually. But even if the kids decide to take a different path, she still sees value in the students learning about how the city functions.
“They may run for office themselves someday, but even if they don’t, they tend to understand how their community works and want to be part of that,” Leeuwrik said.

Tom Kirkman, deputy Public Works director, educates the students about a sanitation truck. | Courtesy city of Pocatello

A student climbs out of a Pocatello fire truck. | Courtesy city of Pocatello

A group of students see the inside of a police vehicle. | Courtesy city of Pocatello
The post Pocatello aims to inspire young readers to become future city leaders appeared first on East Idaho News.

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