WWE Superstars read to students in the Tremé

WWE Superstars participate in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge with students from Briccolage Academy

At Bricolage Academy I got to sit in and experience one of the many events World Wrestling Entertainment will host leading up to WrestleMania 2018. WWE superstars came down to New Orleans to kickoff the WWE WrestleMania Reading Challenge, a 6-week program motivating local elementary school students to read and compete to be crowned the WrestleMania 2018 “Superstar of Reading!”.

WWE superstars Big Cass, Mandy Rose, Ember Moon, No Way Jose and Dana Warrior all set down and read to the kids at the school. They read a book about a boy from only only a few blocks away. Trombone Shorty’s new children’s book was selected for the event by First Book, a non profit organization partnered with WWE.

“We wanted to find a book that was relatable to the community,”  First Book employee Anna Anderson said. “Historically we’ve used Nino Wrestles the World anytime we’ve done an event with WWE, but this time we wanted to make sure we were highlighting the community.”

The excitement that the kids had was amazing. They were filled with so much energy it felt like the end of the school day. When the wrestlers walked into the school’s cafeteria, the kids went wild. Some of them didn’t even know who the superstars were, but they were so excited to have celebrities visit them at school.

When the wrestlers were reading to the kids they were not just skimming words from the page. They were reading enthusiastically, doing things like roleplaying, making the reading fun and engaging.

After they finished, the kids were allowed to ask questions. Some of the student’s questions were about the wrestlers next match or their rivals. One kid told Big Cass that he couldn’t fight and Big Cass challenged him to a fight, which the kid backed down from.

Other students were really impacted by the reading and the wrestlers’ engagement and the WWE team certainly gained some fans.

Another little boy raised his hand and made a heartfelt comment to the wrestlers, saying that he hadn’t watched WWE before but their presence at the school has convinced him to tune in. When I asked the some of the talent about the little boy’s statement, they said that’s what WWE all about.

WWE Superstar No Way Jose hands out free copies of Trombone Shorty, by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

“It made me feel great,” said Big Cass. “He’s not a fan, he’s not interested but when he sees us come here and sees that we’re human, we’re real people,and we’ve gone through the same things as them growing up. That makes me feel good that he sees and us that we’re more relatable and now he wants to watch us on TV.”

Before the kids were sent back to their classes to leave for the day, they were given a copy of Trombone Shorty’s book, WWE folders and a t-shirt from the The King [Law] Firm, who also sponsored the event.

WWE will be holding these events and many more as Wrestlemania 34 approaches. They will be going to other schools and encouraging the young girls and boys of New Orleans to read. If the students read enough hours in and out of school, then they will receive books for their school and also get access to WWE superstars and tickets to the Wrestlemania events.

All in all however, according to Mandy, WWE is more than just a field of battle, it’s a place to create a better future for its smallest of fans.

“I don’t think people realize all the charity work and everything we do on the outside besides fighting each other and putting on a show,” Mandy said. “But these events here are the most rewarding all of us coming out to the schools and different charity events and leaving a big impact on these young kids so it’s definitely rewarding and awesome on both sides.”

Over 170 educators participated in this program throughout the region which ends this Friday, March 2. Winning educators and students will be recognized at WrestleMania 34.