Read like a Demon: Football Heroes Promoting Reading to Primary School Students

Article excerpt

Read Like a Demon is a literacy program which offers primary school students an opportunity to participate in reading and writing workshops with Melbourne Football Club (The Demons) players, and a number of best selling children's authors. This is a partnership between the Melbourne Football Club and Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation, supported by Hardie Grant Egmont Publishers. It involves 160 students from 10 primary schools in the city of Casey. Introduced as a pilot in 2009 the program aims to celebrate children's connections with literacy, and to encourage them to read more. In 2010 the program has been extended to offer creative writing workshops. Sport and reading create a great mix supporting such positive literacy values with sporting role models provide children with confidence and inspire a love of reading. Edited version of a paper presented at the Alia Access conference Brisbane 1-3 September 2010.

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The city of Casey is 35km from the Melbourne CBD, in Melbourne's south east. It covers 396 sq km and is experiencing the largest growth in Victoria. (1) The population is about 240,000 or 79,000 households. (2)

The partners

The Melbourne Football Club and Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation are the principal partners in Read and Write Like a Demon. They are supported by publishers Hardie Grant Egmont and 10 schools in Casey.

Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation

The Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation is a public library service providing services throughout Casey and the shire of Cardinia.

It runs a number of programs for children and young adults to foster literacy, including Tinies Times, preschool storytimes and afterschool book clubs for children age 5-7 and 8-12 years. It also host author events during Education Week and Children's Book Week, and has a good relationship with schools.

Melbourne Football Club

The Melbourne Football Club is an Australian Rules football club playing in the Australian Football League (AFL). Also known as the Demons, the club was one of the pioneer clubs of Australian Rules football, dating back to 1858.

In 2009 the club and the city executed an agreement that saw a commitment by the club to deliver a comprehensive community partnership program in Casey over the next 30 years. This agreement included the Melbourne Football Club setting up a training base at Casey Fields in Cranbourne.

Melbourne Football Club president Jim Stynes confirmed the strength of the affiliation

   This is a great day for the club. Casey Fields
   provides the world class training venue that we
   have been looking for--but it's not just the
   training ground. What we have achieved to date
   is just the beginning. We look forward to a long
   and rewarding relationship with the city of
   Casey, and we plan to make a real and
   meaningful contribution to this great
   community. (3)

Then Casey mayor, Cr Geoff Ablett, reiterated Stynes' sentiments, saying

   The sealing of this agreement is absolutely
   fantastic news for the entire Casey community
   and is a historic moment in the history of our city
   as it's an extremely rare occurrence for a council
   to partner with an AFL team. It will see
   Melbourne Football Club undertake a number of
   activities at local schools, businesses and junior
   and senior football clubs at an estimated value of
   more than $630,000 per year. (4)

The Melbourne Football Club is committed to becoming the leader in community programs, and aims to connect with the community through the establishment of a number of partnerships and meaningful programs. A significant part of the club's community strategy is the commitment to schools in the Casey region. In 2009 a number of programs and initiatives were implemented to provide students with an exciting learning experience, including the Read Like a Demon (RLAD) program. …