TRENTON - A bill inspired by an Ocean City girl's struggles to learn to read was approved by the Senate Education Commitee Monday.
The bill would create a statewide Reading Disabilities Task Force to study and evaluate how to best diagnose, treat and educate children with reading disabilities.
The bill was first sponsored by Assemblyman Nelson Albano, D-Atlantic, Cape May,Cumberland, after he learned about Samantha Ravelli and her family's struggle to get help for her dyslexia, a neurological disorder that makes it difficult to process letters and sounds.  Albano's bill was approved by the Assembly.
Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, sponsored the Senate version of the bill, noting that Samantha is reading now, but many children still struggle.  Two other parents also testified about their difficulty getting appropriate services for their children.
Samantha and her family attended the hearing, and Samantha read a poem she had read at the Assembly hearing. 
The Ravellis moved to Ocean City because it has the specialized Wilson reading program that has helped Samantha learn to read. Her mother, Beth Ravelli said she is thrilled with the support shown for the bill and hopes it can be voted on by the full Senate quickly so the work of the task force can begin.
(Look for complete coverage in The Press of Atlantic City on Tuesday)