St Marys Rugby League Club backs Learning Links' Reading for Life through Blacktown Council ClubGrants

"It becomes a cycle, it's quite often mirrored by the parents," Learning Links' Kate Whitney said of reading difficulty. Picture: Supplied
"It becomes a cycle, it's quite often mirrored by the parents," Learning Links' Kate Whitney said of reading difficulty. Picture: Supplied

St Marys Rugby League Club has backed a program that improves primary school children’s reading ability and mental health.

The club has donated $23,685 to Learning Links and its Reading for Life program, which operates in schools across western Sydney.

Kate Whitney from Learning Links said the program helped pupils with issues including difficulty picking up English or who were battling dyslexia.

Reading for Life uses volunteers to provide one-on-one mentorship to pupils over a 15-week period, and it’s achieving positive results.

“Our pupils are often one or two years behind the rest of their class,” Ms Whitney said.

“What we know is that can cause them to become anxious; they never raise their hand in class.

“By the time they finish the program, they have usually progressed 12 months, or they’re up to speed.”

Ms Whitney said the program also acted as an early intervention to the mental health issues that can arise from difficulty in the classroom.

“It’s a really fun program,” she said. “Because they’re often quite anxious, we go in and play board games to bring them out of their shell.

“We want to build self-confidence and break the cycle of illiteracy.”

The funding came through Blacktown Council’s ClubGrants initiative, which enlists representatives from local clubs across the region to put back into the community.

Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali said the ClubGrants committee was formed to help identify the programs than needed support.

“Since 2011, the Blacktown city ClubGrants local committee has funded 830 local projects, totalling over $10 million,” he said.

“This year, 50 projects received a total of $575,135, which is an average of just more than $11,500 each.”