Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Badgerys Creek, Books in Homes and beautiful children: I’m grateful

That headline pretty much sums up an afternoon that reminded me of all that is good in life. Yesterday, I headed out to Badgerys Creek – once known for the potential to become Sydney’s second airport. I cruised amid a sea of cars along the M5 as rain drizzled down on a chilly winter's day. I was however, feeling unusually warm inside; focused on my mission to assist a book-giving ceremony as part of Australia’s Books in Homes program.

As a proud Ambassador for BIH and the National Year of Reading my job is easy: I yarn with groups of school kids – often in low socio-economic areas – about the importance of reading, and then watch joy sweep across young faces as they are gifted with books of their choice, sponsored largely by local businesses.

As I approached Badgerys Creek Public School, leaving the city and then suburbia behind, I wondered what the school of twenty-four students might actually be like. Well dear readers, it was an oasis of positivity, high spirits, extraordinarily good behaviour, and to me, a reminder amongst all the darkness in the news every day, that we can have a bright future if we nurture our young people. 

These kids love to read, and were thrilled with their new titles, sponsored by the University of Western Sydney, my alma mater. Representing UWS yesterday was the lovely Laura Archibald, pictured below with the very eloquent school captains who MC’d the event, starting with a beautiful acknowledgement to country. Here's the words they used:

At Badgerys Creek PS we acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land - the Darug, Gandangara and Dhurawal people.  We pay our respects to elders both past, present and future and extend that respect to other Aboriginal present, as they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia.  We must always remember that under the asphalt this land is, was and always will be traditional Aboriginal land.

And they finished with their school creed, which I think should be a mantra for all:
This is our school
Let peace dwell here,
Let the rooms be full of contentment,
Let love abide here,
Love of our school,
Love of one another.
Love of self and love of god.
Let us remember that as many hands make a house
so many hearts make a school.

I was fortunate enough to be able to read with some of the kids after the official business was over and even though I promised not to sing, it was a bit difficult when reading There’s a hole in my bucket by Jenny Cooper. 

But wait - there was more! I was also presented with a book! That's right. 3-6's Spooky Adventures (cover below) is a collection of stories written by the students of BCPS. You are advised that the contents of this work will make you shiver and shake, give you genuine thrills, will stop you from sleeping and that it's  a petrifyingly teeth chattering read. There's scary, blood-chilling endings, spooky endings, and you are dared to read the work if you can handle the terrifyingly spooky, scary twists and dramatically horrifying stories. Now that's some warning!

I am truly grateful to BIH and to Badgerys Creek Public School for allowing me into their worlds and most importantly, to be able to share the joy of reading with such beautiful students. Kudos also to those organisations and community groups nationally who support the program finally, ensuring that all Australian kids can have their own books.

Last year I visited the cherubs at La Perouse Public School for a BIH presentation, and blogged about why I was / am grateful for the program. You can read about that experience here. 


Kim Kingston said...

THANK YOU Anita for making yesterday such a special day for the kids at Badgerys Creek!!

Anonymous said...

A very special thank you to Dr Anita Heiss for being our Books in Homes Reading Ambassador because it was very interesting to hear your informative talk. We loved your beautiful smile and infectious laugh and you provided a positive aura that enveloped all those present.
Students and Staff of Badgerys Creek PS

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