Over the past 12 months Leigh Harry of our office has been working with five other members of the Geelong business community on a voluntary basis to create a program to improve childhood literacy levels in the Geelong region.
The project was born from research of current programs where a common deficiency was identified.
The programs in place provide coaching and enhancement of reading skills but fall down when the children are away from school particularly when there are no or limited access to books in the family home.
Further research undertaken by the group revealed that it was the age group between 12 months and 6 years where familiarity with books and reading needed to be encouraged.
Under the program primary schools are approached and the children are asked to look through their previous loved books and identify those that are still in good condition but no longer read.
These books are then placed in provided reader/book bags and brought back to school for collection by ReadOn.
The collected books are then assessed for suitability and classified on the basis age and gender.
Once classified the books are distributed via the most appropriate channels and facilities to ensure the books have the best chance of reaching the target children. Distribution outlets include:
- Medical centres
- Maternal health centres
- Early childhood learning centres
- Other primary schools
- Community events
In a recently run pilot program 1190 books were obtained from a source of two primary schools. These books were successfully delivered to over 400 children in areas of Geelong that have been identified as having particularly low childhood literacy levels.
The program has now been adopted by Glastonbury Child and Family Services who have seen the benefit of including the program with their current service offerings.
This is a fantastic result and the group is hopeful that the ongoing success of the ReadOn concept will ultimately have a positive affect on the literacy levels in the Geelong region.