Local officials unveiled a citywide early learning reading challenge using smart phones, tablets and computers during a press conference at Malden City Hall Friday morning.
Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi and the Malden School Committee are developing a Malden Parent University, and they are challenging all pre-kindergarten through second grade students throughout the city to read one million words before the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Malden Public Schools, Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, Cheverus School and early learning centers are among the educational institutions that will be participating in the program.
The city has partnered with Footsteps2Brilliance, Inc., which will provide students with an early learning mobile gaming technology that helps children improve their literacy skills.
Several state and local officials were in attendance for the conference, including State Sen. Katherine Clark, who lauded the city and school district for taking an innovative approach aimed at helping students enhance their reading skills.
DeRuosi received proclamations from the offices of Clark, Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Gary Christenson, who was unable to attend the conference.
Ilene Rosenthal, CEO of Footsteps2Brilliance, gave a presentation during the conference about her company's "revolutionary" platform.
"...Gaming technology...engages, inspires and makes the whole family come together around literacy," Rosenthal said.
Several youngsters had the opportunity test out the mobile gaming platform while a packed City Council Chamber looked on.
The start-up costs are estimated to be around $50,000 and will be funded through the school department budget, according to DeRuosi.
"This program covers all that we need. It can move students that are currently reading faster, it can supplement kids that need some extra help and it provides books online that I can't put in the hand of every child," said the superintendent. "Malden will provide every family living within the 02148 zip code with Footsteps2Brilliance Comprehensive Literacy Act."
Malden joins Revere and Everett as the only communities in Massachusetts using the Footsteps2Brilliance mobile platform, Rosenthal said following the conference.
Check out our video coverage from the press conference.