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Thousands of students take part in NCAA Readers Become Leaders basketball game

Thousands of students take part in Readers Become Leaders program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Thousands of third graders on Monday filled the Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for an experience of a lifetime, all while growing their love for reading.

Loud cheers from students filled the air at the NCAA Readers Become Leaders basketball game featuring a match-up between IUPUI and Spalding University. IUPUI won 70-63 to begin the season.

Many of the students waved their pompoms for the IUPUI men’s basketball team and, of course, Indiana Pacers mascot Boomer and his thrilling dunks at halftime.

Victor Hill, associate director of inclusion, education, and community engagement for the Indianapolis-based NCAA, said, “These kids are so enthusiastic and happy to be here, so we’re just excited. We have the opportunity to co-sponsor this with IUPUI and WISH-TV.”

The event, hosted by IUPUI, focuses on inspiring students to read more.

Students were also encouraged to take part in the annual I Love to Read Challenge competition, which asks them to log their number of minutes spent reading.

Luke Bosso, the director of athletics at IUPUI, said, “For us, we want to be the university of the city of Indianapolis, and being able to give back to students is so important for the future of the institution and our current athletes. For some of these kids, it’s their first Division 1 game, so this is a really fun one for them to be at.”

Event organizers say students also got to take with them a free book. They say it’s critical for them to love reading. Hill said, “They’ll hear about how important it is to read, but better yet to have fun with reading. It gives them an opportunity to learn so much and take them to different worlds. They just have to take the time to sit down and read.”

The hope is to increase graduation rates and encourage the kids to pursue higher education.

“We want to establish the habit of them reading and the statistics have shown that if they read 30 minutes a day they have a very high chance of graduating from high school and going onto college as well,” Hill said.