This NAIDOC Week 2018, we remember, pay our respects to and thank the many many Aunties, colleagues and friends who have directed the building of Paint the Town READ, Black and Yellow across Australia. Thank you for your wisdom, love, forgiveness, laughter and patience as you have led and taught your non-Indigenous friends, for the sake of your children and grandchildren.
Follow us on Facebook this week as we reflect on and thank a representative group of these women from across Australia.
Aunty Booka – the mascot for Paint the Booka REaD hatched last Friday. She had a great time at her birthday party, as she was read to by the Mayor of Wanneroo, Tracey Roberts, Cr David Boothman from the City of Stirling, Margaret Quick, the member for Girraween and Janine Freeman, the member for Mirrabooka plus lots and lots of children.
Many years ago, I was principal of a country school. It bothered me that too many of our children had trouble learning to read and write. It bothered me into action.
In my school we made a huge effort. Best practice. It was a blitz. With great results, right?
Well, no. We had results, but they were not great. For all our efforts, the results were — as a teacher I hate admitting this — disappointing. This got me thinking. Are some children just doomed? Or were we missing something? I looked wider. What I found changed everything.
Study after study showed that a child’s ability to learn to read and write at school is set in the first five years of life. The first three years, in fact. School was too late. And what’s needed in those early years? Simple. Yet I could see that it wasn’t happening in many families.
Spend time with children every day, from birth — talking, singing, rhyming, reading — and you’ll prepare them to read and write at school. It’s from this insight that Paint the Town REaD was born.
‘Painting the town red’ carries the notion of celebration, of ‘doing’ the town, of saturating it with excitement and enthusiasm. That’s the literacy culture we want to generate. We pull together community groups, agencies and businesses, and we inspire them to integrate this culture into everything they do with (and as) families. And to keep inventing the most fun and creative ways to do so.
It’s a growing, nationwide network of people whose influence can change thousands of lives, long term.
Michelle Calderbank was presented with WA’s Shire of Yilgarn Australia Day Active Citizenship Award for her significant contribution to supporting the Yilgarn community.
Michelle set up Paint the Yligarn REaD in her own time to provide the next generation of children in Southern Cross with the best possible chance to reach their potential. Michelle is a high school English teacher and witnesses firsthand the significant challenges for young people when they have not had the important early literacy foundational experiences. A long-time resident in Southern Cross, Michelle had the connections and the respect in the community to engage everyone in supporting and spreading the PTTR message. And this included her high school students who eagerly took on the catering role at the launch event, and gained catering qualifications in the process.
Michelle has a number of other voluntary roles in the community such as running the Young Entertainers program for the past 12 years and active involvement in sporting clubs.
Paint the Town REaD groups across Australia are off and running, and especially Librarians, who are including children under school age in their Summer Reading Challenges at their local libraries. It’s a great way to give children starting school that final boost, and for younger children to model from older siblings is always a super opportunity. And you might even bump into your local PTTR mascot there as well.