Malcolm Mitchell, former UGA and New England Patriots player, encourages reading in visit to Troup County

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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Malcolm Mitchell, a former football player for the New England Patriots and the University of Georgia, hosted an all-day reading celebration on Tuesday in partnership with Troup County Schools and Get Troup Reading. This celebration included early bird breakfast, three pep rallies hosted at each high school, a meeting with the chamber of commerce, and a community event at Southbend Park.

Mitchell puts on reading rallies as a part of his youth literacy initiative, Read with Malcolm, and emphasizes the importance of reading to children. As part of his rallies, Malcolm speaks with the kids and reads his book, The Magician’s Hat. The book features a hat that helps make dreams come true through reading.

Mitchell said his mission with each pep rally is to get kids comfortable with reading and excited to read.

“If I can embed that familiarity and comfortability with books, that to me gets them a step closer to embracing reading as something that could impact them,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that this comfort with books and reading is important as he believes it is crucial to overall development.

“It’s the foundation for anything in our life. If you think about growth, it always stimulates from a core foundation,” Mitchell said. “And a lot of times that foundation can either be shattered by social economic status or financial stability, but reading kind of mends some of those wounds and allows that foundation to still be strong.”

Mitchell also brings along John Logan, a magician, to perform at the reading rallies. During Tuesday’s rally, Logan amazed the crowd as he turned orange juice into an orange and an empty coloring book into a full and vibrant one.

Logan joins Mitchell at his events for Read with Malcolm and said it is always fun to see the reactions from the crowds.

“So we do different age groups, but it’s funny that the kids and the adults react the same, which is cool,” Logan said.

Mitchell had nothing but kind words to say on his experience with Troup County. He said that his experience showcased what he hopes to see for his Share the Magic Foundation.

“Troup County does a great job of getting the community to wrap their arms around the children,” Mitchell said. “Today there were high school cheerleaders, band members, football teams, principals, everyone. Again its that holistic community approach to fostering this ideal into a group of children that you hope grows the community. This is a representation of what I want my foundation to do globally.”

Kim Myers, the director of Get Troup Reading, said that bringing Mitchell to Troup County was always something she wanted to do and that she featured his book during her time as a librarian.

“I was a school librarian for many years and so I’d see his book and always had him in there. I used to use his book, his first book, quite often with lessons and with kids,” Myers said. “When I took this position, I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get him to Troup County’.”

Myers elaborates that bringing Mitchell to Troup County was great not only for the children in the school system, but for community and business members as well.

“It’s been great because (during) early bird he was able to talk to community members and business members and they need to hear his message,” Myers said. “The kids were so cute at the schools, they loved it. I thought it was a great real enthusiasm and he’s a natural with kids.”

Mitchell said that he hopes that he was able to inspire the children of Troup County to read. He said that if he could give them one piece of advice that he wish he had gotten when he was younger, he would tell them to be courageous.

“Have the courage to explore things that you’re afraid of. When I was a child, I would not do that. You saw today where the child stood up and read with me? Never in a million years would I have done that. That fear would have stopped me,” Mitchell said. “Once I got older, I was able to defeat the fear. But as a child don’t be afraid to be you. Don’t be afraid to admit your flaws and own them, but also work on them if they’re things you want to change.”