Through your donations the Ardoch Youth Foundation has been supporting young people in Norlane and Corio to reach their potential through education. Released in March, the new Australian Early Development Census results for Geelong showed that 17.8% of children starting school were developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains. What’s more, this is much higher in Corio at 31.8% and in Norlane/North Shore with 39% of children developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains, significantly higher than national (22%) and Victorian results (19.9%). This represents an increase in the percentage of children starting school developmentally vulnerable in Norlane and North Shore but a slight improvement in Corio.
Recognising that poor literacy and language skills in the early years significantly reduces the likelihood of children’s educational success and development, the Ardoch Youth Foundation received a $30,000 grant in 2015 to provide targeted resources for families and skilled volunteers to build children’s literacy, language, communication, social and cognitive skills, and support their health and wellbeing.
Ardoch engaged in a number of projects and programs to support their overall objective during the year. One example of a project implemented was an Early Years Book Drive. Through the drive Ardoch supporters sourced 1,000 new children’s books for the Kinder Book Borrowing project run through Geelong’s Best Start program. This program encourages children to borrow books from their kindergarten library – for every five books borrowed, a child received a free new book to take home, read and cherish.
Since the Kinder Book Borrowing program began in October of 2015, participating kindergartens have reported an almost 400% increase in book borrowings from their libraries. Both children and parents have been engaged in the reading and book selection process. Playgroups and the Maternal and Child Health Services are also incorporating the same or similar systems for families, whilst also encouraging the use of the library for a greater selection of books.