I believe all children have the right to become engaged, literate members of society – irrespective of their postcode. And I’m particularly passionate about children receiving free access to picture books before they start school – especially in communities with less resources. It goes without saying that I’m a HUGE fan of libraries everywhere.
I’ve absolutely loved spending the past 15 years being involved in several literacy support initiatives for children, which have included: Classroom story-writing workshops in Metropolitan Melbourne; Writer in Residence, school readiness picture book collections, and fundraising galas for the education charity Ardoch; regular volunteering at The Book Bunker, Scholastic Australia Children’s Library, RCH Melbourne; and Reading/Craft sessions for Koala Kids cancer charity at RCH and Monash Children’s Hospitals, as part of their ‘Book Club’ Literacy Program. I particularly enjoyed my volunteer work at the children’s hospitals, as it dovetailed nicely with my first career in Occupational Therapy.
When I’m not writing, I’m able to raise awareness and funds for Ardoch through my socially and environmentally conscious boutique business, DEED bags – where I make planet-friendly bags and donate $1 from every bag sold and 100% of charity bag auctions throughout the year to Ardoch.
My involvement with Ardoch has spanned the past 15 years and I’m very honoured to be a Literacy Ambassador for them. Ardoch is focused on improving the educational outcomes for children and young people in disadvantaged communities, and last year celebrated its 30th anniversary by supporting a record 15,288 children and young people.
Most recently, I’ve been able to help Ardoch develop their Writer in Residence Program, which aims to enhance children’s literacy and language skills, and increase their aspirations for creativity, story-telling and writing. The Program started off as a pilot project in 2016 with myself and author Susannah McFarlane, and has since expanded to include five published authors spending weekly sessions with children in Ardoch partner schools over a 5-week period, and publishing a book which every student receives a copy of, thanks to grants from generous philanthropic donors.
To date, I’ve co-authored four amazing junior/middle grade fiction stories in Ardoch’s Writer in Residence program: Pencil Pandemonium (Sunshine Primary School, 2016), Freddie the Famous Ferret (Arnolds Creek Primary, Melton, 2017), Super Astro Chicken and the Giant Red Tomato (Mother of God Primary, Ardeer, 2018) and Mrs Balil’s Brilliant Boots (Ardeer Primary School, 2019). Each year I simply can’t wait to hear which school I’ll be visiting!