“The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.” – Dolly Parton
This week, our #FortunateFriday feature is a program, whose sole purpose of existance is to improve early childhood literacy for children by giving them a free, high-quality, age-appropriate book each month from birth to age 5. Whilst our students are much, much, older than this age bracket, we are huge believers in early childhood education. There are countless studies and research that have been published showing how critical that age bracket is to forming one’s future. It is where we absorb most, if not all of our values and practices we display today.
What is even more incredible is that this program was founded by Dolly Parton (yes, THE legendary country music sensation Dolly Parton)! Not only does she have a sensational voice, she also has a sensational heart.
When Dolly Parton launched this program for the children of her home country in East Tennessee, USA; she wanted to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children. She wanted to provide them with the gift of a specially selected book each month and mailed high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes. She wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the same magic she feels when reading a book. Moreover, she wanted to ensure that every child in her program would have books, regardless of their family’s income.
United Way Australia
The program became so popular that in 2000, Dolly Parton announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally! United Way Australia brainstormed with the great people at the wheel of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on how they could bring this amazing program to our shores. In 2013, after 18 months of rigorous researching and active planning, the program was officially launched in Australia.
How does this program benefit our communities?
The first child to sign up to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Australia was Charlie, a young boy who was one of eight children from Acacia Ridge, about 25km from Brisbane. Charlie came from a community where 75% of 5-year-olds were developmentally vulnerable or at risk when it came to literacy. The vast majority of children were starting school well behind the rest of the nation.
Sometimes we forget (myself included) that even though we are such an affluent nation, many of our children are living under the poverty line and many more children lack the access to quality, age-appropriate educational materials. How do we expect to create a better nation when we are not enabling access to the tools our future generations need? We sometimes forget that the nation is not just dependent on us or our children alone, the nation is dependent on ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER to provide a sustainable future for us all!
Someone mentioned not too long ago that we are now so obsessed with ourselves and what the future is like for our children that we forget about others and their children. Others and their children need to be able to succeed as well otherwise our and our children’s futures are bleak.
Think about how reliant we are on others in our daily lives. Without the barista making our coffee in the morning, how would we survive the day (at least I know I wouldn’t)? Without the train driver taking us to work each day, how would we earn money? Without the engineers building our roads and designing our cars, how would we get to places? All of our lives are so intertwined (even if you’re a self-declared hermit) that if we allow for someone to fail, we are just failing ourselves. This makes programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library all the more important to all of us.
You can find out more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library here.
Please note, our #FortunateFriday posts are not sponsored. They are chosen to be featured by our team in consultation with our Australian students, and they are chosen because we believe in what they do and want the world to know about them!
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‘Till our next #FortunateFriday feature, have a great week and remember to be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Your act of kindness could create immense change beyond your wildest imagination!
We offer Certificate and Diploma courses to both Australian and international students. Feel free to browse our website to find out more, or call us on 1300 236 574 and speak to one of our friendly staff members.