On the football field, the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is known as a “shutdown cornerback,” closing the door of opportunity for opposing wide receivers. Off the field, the three-time All-Pro defensive star opens the door of opportunity for low-income students with his Patrick’s Corner program.
The program, part of Patrick Peterson’s Foundation for Success, is designed for students in underprivileged schools to “ignite the desire to read,” says Maggie Campbell, senior programs and events manager of Prolanthropy, which worked with Peterson to get the program off the ground.
"Literacy is step number one to being successful in life," says the 25-year-old Peterson, the Cardinals’ first-round pick out of LSU in the 2011 NFL draft. "[Patrick’s Corner] is just someplace these kids can come in and utilize their time. It’s something that is colorful so it can pop to them, and they can have all type of books and come here and explore."
After opening four Patrick’s Corners around the Phoenix area, Peterson is set to launch the fifth at Central Phoenix’s Percy L. Julian Elementary School, where minority children make up 98 percent of the enrollment. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Julian’s Patrick’s Corner, which is being sponsored by Western Window Systems, is expected to take place in late April or early May, when Peterson will meet students and read with them. More than 1,200 books have been donated, and a head-to-toe remodel of an underused section of the school is under way.
Peterson’s mother was a schoolteacher who required Patrick to write a book report on each book he read as a child. It’s what inspired the five-time Pro Bowler to kick off Patrick’s Corner a couple of years ago as part of his foundation, of which Western Window Systems CEO Scott Gates is on the board of trustees.
And the new Patrick’s Corner will be the first to feature a book fair, called Patrick’s Pick Out a Book, in which every student at Percy L. Julian will receive a gift certificate they can use to take home a book to start building their own home libraries.
"I have a huge heart for kids because they are the stars of the future and I’ve seen kids not being able to read," Peterson says. "I don’t want to see these little angels falling by the wayside and become another statistic."For more information on Patrick’s Corner, visit the Patrick Peterson Foundation for Success website.