Amber's story - The power of one day

Senior Officer, Kerry Davies, reports on a success story from the United We Read campaign

The first day of school is such a milestone day for most children on many levels. The children’s level of readiness for school on day one is a predictor for future successes at school, thus, it is indeed an important day.

With that in mind, the days that all occur before the first day of school are vital.

Meet Amber. She is a shy 3-year-old living in a highly vulnerable demographic area. I met her on day one of the United We Read program and registered her and her little sister, Jade, as child one and two in the United We Read Program. From April 2014, Amber and  Jade began to receive books every month from United Way.

Two years later, in April 2016, Amber and Jade (and their Mum) attended the Read Aloud at the Zoo Day Event. Amber has recently turned 5-years-old and has now graduated from the United We Read program. She has also started primary school. 9 weeks ago, Amber stood on the school grounds for her Day One moment at school. Was she ready for school or was she not?

At the Read Aloud at the Zoo Day event, we had guest readers read to the crowd: an international author, a minister, and a local media personality, however, that is not where the magic happened. The magic for me was when after they had finished, and the shy Amber sat up in the guest readers’ chair in front of the crowd, leant in to the microphone and confidently read to the crowd. Her Mum proudly told me that she is now on reading level 15 (my own daughter started school 9 weeks ago too and she is not on that level).

During this 2-year period when we first met Amber, she has had her own set of challenges. As a 4-year-old, her parents separated and Amber did not cope well with this new change at home. The family home was sold and the three of them moved to a new home in another area. Mum went out to work and Amber started school.

Alongside these challenges, Amber continued to receive the monthly books through the United We Read program. This meant she had access to quality books and her Mum made every effort to read regularly with her children. The three of them regularly attended United We Read events held in the community.

So I ask you again, on day one, was Amber school ready? Yes, she sure was!

For further information, contact Kerry Davies, United Way SA
P: 08 7002 0140
E: kerry.davies@unitedwaysa.com.au

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