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Redskins Assist In D.C. School's Library Redesign

While video games often dominate free time for young children these days, there's stiill something special about getting lost in a book and letting your imagination roam free.

The Washington Redskins on Tuesday joined the Heart of America Foundation in redesigning the library for Leckie Elementary School located in Washington, D.C.

The redesign -- a project that started several weeks back -- includes the construction of a small stage for live storybook performances, as well as a new interactive mobile projector, new instructional and computer tables, new paint and inspirational décor and a new reading corner.

Along with structural modifications, the library is now also home to more than 300 new books as well as 2,000 e-books.

Fullback Darrel Young, who helped volunteers build new tables, said that knowing how to read is fundamental for all daily activities.

"In anything you do in life, you have to be able to read," he said. "Whether it's a contract or a resume, you have to present yourself. Obviously, reading is important. It's something that we do every day regardless of what you're doing in life."

By incorporating new technology with longstanding educational practices, Young said that the new library will help the students as the tackle new obstacles down the road.

"I think just the exposure that you get to prepare yourself for the next step in life," Young said of the most exciting new features in the library. "Growing up, technology was a lot different so we didn't have the social media and stuff to basically help us get to the next step. I've done a couple events where people or kids out there have media classes and stuff like that.

"So the exposure kids have these days is tremendous and I think our future is bright."

Tight end Niles Paul, meanwhile, thinks the library will now be a go-to for students.

"It allows them to actually want to be in here," Paul said. "I know that other places you go into the library and it's not exactly the most welcoming place to be, but I think what we're doing here, a lot of kids are actually going to want to be in the library and enjoy themselves."

Joining Paul in the construction of bookshelves was CSN Washington's Tarik El-Bashir.

A father of two, El-Bashir recognized several books that his children read and believes that the new books for Leckie Elementary School students will allow them to grow their writing skills as well.

"I have a 10-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter and I was looking at some of the titles of the books and one of them jumped out because that's my son's favorite book," he said. "So I know that some fourth grader or some fifth grader is going to get that book and fall in love with the storyline.

"He plays video games all day, but once he got into books, it changed the way he views the world and it changed his imagination. He's now into writing and drawing, and I hope one of the kids who gets these books, it will do the same for them."

Once the final nail was placed on Tuesday, one of the second grade classes that has collectively read more than 1,000 books through the current academic year joined the Redskins for the official unveiling of the redone library.

Redskins front office executive and Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams was on hand to cut the ribbon and said that his former teammates and he did something similar more than 20 years ago, but that the spotlight is always on the students in situations like these.

"I could easily say this some 20-odd years ago, I want to thank the city for embracing me for what we accomplished as a team, but the most important thing was what we did on Tuesdays," he said. "Like what these guys are doing, I had an opportunity to go out to school and it wasn't for them, it wasn't for me, it was for the young people sitting here today."

Following the ribbon cutting, students began making their way to the library where linebacker Everette Brown greeted smiling youngsters at the door.

Giving each a high-five, Brown said he hopes the excitement for entering the library continues for years to come.

"Looking around, everybody has a smile on their face, everybody has their hand on something, trying to help out," he said. "The kids, they'll be thankful for it and they'll definitely take advantage of the opportunity they have here to come to the library and a new, clean environment."




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