In a bid to address some of the harsh realities of growing up in underprivileged areas, Read to Rise offers South African youth a chance to discover new worlds through reading.
As one of the country’s core focuses, education is extremely important with regards to moulding the leaders of the future and arming them with the skills and knowledge necessary for them to lead productive lives and become contributing members of society.
The Read to Rise non-government organisation (NGO) was established in 2013 by couple Athol Williams and Taryn Lock, who between them boast seven academic degrees and vast business experience.
Born from their shared passion for literacy, education and helping others reach the heights of their potential, the Read to Rise organisation has been working with youth from under-resourced communities such as Mitchell Plain and its surrounding areas near Cape Town.
“Athol grew up in Mitchells Plain so he knows the challenges that these young children face,” says Lock.
With a large number of schools lacking properly stocked libraries – some lacking libraries all-together – the Read to Rise organisation offers children suitable reading material fitting for their age groups in an attempt to instil a love of reading early on in life.
“Read to Rise aims to inspire children to read in under-resourced communities. As the name indicates, we firmly believe that children need to read in order to rise in their personal development and contribution to society,” says Lock. “We believe that children who love to read will excel at school and go on to become constructive citizens. It all starts with reading.”
AN EARLY START
According to Read to Rise, children in their foundational phase of education should be reading around 40 books a year that are suited to their level. Their findings suggest that children in the areas they operate read one or two books, which fall far short of the recommendation.
This is due to the lack of motivation to pick up a book and read. To address this, Read to Rise visits to hold interactive reading sessions with the children.
The organisation has taken a different angle when it comes to encouraging a good reading ethos amongst school children. By offering these children a chance to own books, they hope that the sense of ownership will strengthen their interest in reading.
Lock says that they “believe that book ownership is important so give children their own new book to take home.
“In addition, we place a Mini-Library – which is a brightly painted bookshelf which contains 50 new age-appropriate story books – in every classroom so that learners have access to these books.”
Since its establishment, Read to Rise has visited children in more than 350 classrooms, handing out in excess of 2 800 books to pupils in Soweto and Mitchells Plain.
BOOKS IN THE NEW AGE
Speaking on the role that books have in the age of tablets and smart phones, Lock says “books play a huge part in today’s age especially in the under-resourced, crime-ridden communities that we work with.
“There is something special about holding a new book in your hands, turning the pages and reading it. Book ownership is important as it creates a sense of pride, responsibility and an enjoyment of reading. That’s exactly why we give a brand new, high quality book to every child.”
PLAY YOUR PART
“Individuals can volunteer their time to read to children at schools, cover books in plastic at one of our “Cover & Coffee” sessions or offer their expertise to assist with our operations.” Lock explains.
“Individuals or corporates can sponsor new books. It costs R45 to sponsor a new book for a learner or R3,200 to sponsor a Mini-Library for a class.”