UNITED WAY BREAKING THE CYCLE OF DISADVANTAGE
At United Way South Australia all our activities are geared towards “Building Children’s Potential” particularly for those most disadvantaged, vulnerable and at risk communities. We do this by tackling the underlying causes of disadvantage in their community through the foundation of reading to give children and their families to a better chance in life through a good education.
Many children lack the skills and knowledge crucial for starting school ready to learn to read and furthermore parents lack the skills or resources to help their children to keep up with their peers. These children are much more likely to leave school early, without the education and experience needed to find stable employment.
United Way South Australia’s United We Read program currently supports close to 450 children aged between 0-5 years old living in Elizabeth Downs and Elizabeth Park, two of the suburbs that have the highest percentage of children, almost 25%, who are ill prepared to start school in the area of literacy.
The solution starts at home. The United We Read program delivers to these children a quality book free each month, while their parents receive literacy support and resources. United Way SA also run local literacy events and activities, including under our Read Aloud – Every Child Every Day campaign.
Initial evaluations of the United We Read program show that children and parents are engaging in more reading activities with daily reading increasing from 10% to 60% and time spend reading more than doubling. This is not only improving their children’s pre-literacy skills but also assisting in family bonding.
United We Read is delivered with support from local community services, schools and local government to reach families who are often disengaged and to hold activities in support of the monthly book distribution through the partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Penguin Books Australia.
The United We Read program was recognised by winning the 2017 Playford Australia Day – Community Initiative of the Year, the 2015 Northern Messenger Resilient Community Partnership Award and was also a Semi Finalist in the South Australian 2015 Connecting Community Award.
The United We Read program has also generated two smaller pilots:
• Read Aloud Trees – creating spaces and libraries in venues from commercial stores to community centres to outdoor spaces. The Read Aloud Trees were supported by the City of Playford and launched by Mayor, Glenn Docherty.
• United We Read Radio Program pilot was launched in partnership with the University of South Australia to read the distributed books on radio to help parents who may struggle to read the books well. This is being evaluated in mid 2016.