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WordUP! Book Launch - Thursday 11 December 2008

Recent studies have shown that by the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia's Indigenous students do not have the skills and knowledge in reading literacy needed to meet real-life challenges.1 The wordUP! literacy program recently run at The Yurungai Learning Centre in Waterloo in Sydney is a community based project inspired to help close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage reports this media release of 8 December 2008 about the WordUP Booklaunmch.

This year Social Work Students at the University of New South Wales were given the broad task of creating a project related to the Close The Gap campaign. A small group of students collaborated to create the wordUP! literacy program. 

The program targets literacy, encourages a love of books, and provides an opportunity to learn and succeed. Social work students 'buddied up' with Indigenous primary school students, encouraging and assisting them to write and illustrate their own short stories. 

The childrens' stories were frequently inspired by popular culture and their favourite movies, and in some cases blended with references to their traditional culture, expressing their own unique identies. The children variously thought that it was "cool", "excellent", and "exciting!" to be a printed author. 

Integral to the success of the project was finding a community centre that was willing to host the program and that is committed to combating Indigenous disadvantage. The Factory's Yurungai Learning Centre in Waterloo fully embraced the idea and ran the wordUP! program through September and October this year. 

The centre runs an out of school care program weekday afternoons that offers children recreational and educational support as well as providing nutritious meals. Children attending the Centre on Thursday afternoons took part in the wordUP! program. 

The wordUP! team collected donations and funded the printing of the children's stories into individual books. The finished books are now to be presented to the children as the finale of the wordUP! program. 

Dr Anita Heiss, a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and one of Australia's most prolific and well-known authors of Indigenous literature, will be presenting the children with their books at the book launch party, which takes place on December 11th at The Factory Community Centre in Waterloo. 

The presentation of the books will follow a traditional dance performed by children that attend The Yurungai Learning Centre. 

The Yurungai Learning Centre and the wordUP! team invite members of the media to attend the book launch and celebrate the achievements of these young Indigenous children. 

The Book Launch begins at 4:30pm at The Yurungai Learning Centre, upstairs at The Factory Community Centre in Waterloo, 67 Raglan Street, Waterloo. 

For further information and or images please contact Lisa Stuart on