GREENSBORO, N.C. — What does it take to make a community thrive? For 70 years, WFMY News 2 has proven the answer is a combination of information, education and inspiration.
Time travel to 1957. Maverick gallops onto our TV screens, slinkys and hula hoops are all the rage, Sputnik 1 opens our eyes to space, and WFMY News 2 blasts off on its own mission...outside the orbit of news.
Call it -- Operation: Inspire Community.
"It's so important. Our students need to be educated and have these tools to move forward and have great careers in their lives," said WFMY News 2 community relations manager Dona Pickett.
It's key, she said, to "shape" young minds early. That's why one of WFMY News 2's earliest education projects molded the importance of art.
The Scholastic Arts Project of 1957 cultivated creativity for nearly five decades, encouraging students to create and display their artwork in the community.
In 1996, Tools for School began equipping students with supplies for success. Every year since, you, the community, have helped News 2 help 25,000 young learners.
In 1998, the focus turned a "page," as Gifts 2 Read stocked Salvation Army book shelves.
And, in 2012, News 2 dove beyond the "bind" to let imagination soar, launching the Emmy-Winning Read 2 Succeed program. WFMY News 2 General Manager Larry Audas recalled the simple question that started it all.
"We looked at ourselves and the community and wondered -- what could we best do here, something more than just a logo on the back of a t-shirt? How could we really make a difference? We heard from a lot of people who said literacy and helping kids learn to read might be the biggest, best thing we do, and that's where it started," Audas recalled.
Read 2 Succeed hasn't stopped since, reaching nearly half a million students as of April 2019.
"Being able to see reading and literacy is required no matter who you are, where you are, what you look like -- it's extremely important," said Foust Elementary School principal Merrie Conaway.
The Good Morning Show team travels to a different Triad elementary school every Thursday, inspiring hundreds of students each week to read.
"When I watch you guys in the morning (in the program highlights) and see all those kids, and they're all excited, I mean you've got to know in your heart there are any number of kids every day whose lives you're changing," Audas said.
From reading to respect, News 2's 2018 mission -- '2 Stop Bullying' -- became a true test of heart.
WFMY News 2 assistant news director Cami Anthony crafted the program, which helps fifth grade students identify and ultimately stop bullying in their schools. At the end of each program, students pledge to be friends, not bullies. The inaugural program launched in February with Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, and the Good Morning Show team hopes to expand the initiative in the near future.
Seven decades have come and gone, and WFMY News 2 has no plans to slow its momentum to meet the needs of its community.
Viewers might ask -- why is it a news station's job to complete this community mission? Audas said, "Because I think we're more than just disseminators of information. I think we're about connecting, because that's what community is about."
WFMY News 2 knows it often take a village to raise a child, but it is the community within...who helps her fly.
WFMY News 2 is looking for viewer feedback about needs in the Piedmont Triad community. Do you have an idea for our next community education program? E-mail News@wfmy.com and write 'community education idea' in the subject line.