Sitting on a small bean bag chair, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu asked a group of kids at the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club to read aloud the posters on the walls.
“I don’t know how to read,” said one little boy, to which Nwosu replied: “That’s why this corner is here buddy, we’re going to teach you how to read.”
Nwosu surprised several kids on Monday evening with a brand-new reading area at the 8th Avenue location. Fully stocked with new books for all reading levels, comfy chairs and pillows, and Seahawks decorations, the reading corner provides a space for a love of reading and learning to grow.
“We know that developing strong literacy skills set kids on a life-long path of success,” said Laurie Black, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of King County. “Having Uchenna, a beloved Seahawks player, encouraging Club members to read is a fantastic way to encourage more young people to become avid readers.”
Nwosu also designed a pair of custom cleats promoting Boys and Girls Clubs of King County for the NFL’s annual My Cause My Cleats initiative. He wore the special cleats during warm-up for the Dec. 4 game against the Los Angeles Rams. (The Seahawks won 27-23).
The cleats are up for auction until Dec. 18 and all proceeds will benefit the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club, said Melissa Pederson, director of institutional giving for the clubs.
The idea for the reading nook came from the initiative and was done in partnership with READ with Reed 83, an organization founded by former NFL player Andre Reed to support Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation. Together, they purchased the reading area items and books, Pederson said.
“It’s a nice selection of brand new books that we didn’t already have in our library. They [the kids] can come here, they can borrow books, they have comfy chairs,” said Pederson. “It really is a nice spot for them to do some extra reading throughout the day.”
Of the clubs’ programming, a daily Power Hour allows students to read or do homework or simply take some calm time.
For Nwosu, his childhood is filled with memories of him and his three sisters staying up late into the night to finish assignments or study because of the importance their father put on academics.
Nwosu’s parents moved from Nigeria to the United States, later ending up in Los Angeles where the Boys and Girls Club played a major role in Nwosu’s childhood, he said. He later earned a scholarship to the University of Southern California, then joined the Los Angeles Chargers before transferring to Seattle.
Each of the kids at Monday’s event took home an autographed goodie bag of Seahawks swag and got to hear Nwosu read “Clifford Makes the Team,” a story he can relate to having joined the Seattle Seahawks this season.
Nwosu said the Boys and Girls Club means a lot to him as he was once in the same shoes as the kids at the event on Dec. 5.
“I know what these kids are going through, so any way I can be a voice for them, be an inspiration, or be a leader that they can look up to, it’a a great feeling for me and … is very special,” he said.
Nwosu highlighted the importance of education, literacy and academic progression passed onto him from his family, noting that “I hope they [the kids] can come here and find this is a space to do that.”
For more information about the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club, visit positiveplace.org/clubs/federal-way-8th-ave/.