Five North Belfast primary schools recently celebrated completing a Book Buddies Programme aimed at improving literacy, building friendships and addressing social and emotional well being.
Managed by Barnardo’s NI ‘Collaborating for Change’ service, Book Buddies is delivered by teachers and volunteers recruited and trained by the Verbal Arts Centre. Almost fifty children from across the five primary schools took part in the programme.
The five schools which took part in the twenty-six week programme were Holy Cross Girls’ School, Holy Family, Seaview PS, Currie PS and St Patrick’s. Each school had previously worked with Barnardo’s on its Ready To Learn early years literacy programme.
Barnardo’s NI Director Lynda Wilson said: “Barnardo’s knows the huge impact a small amount of extra literacy support can have for a child. Book Buddies has taken that a step further by introducing an element of community collaboration with an emphasis on training teachers and local volunteers so that the programme can continue to grow and reach more children.”
Children’s Writing Fellow NI Myra Zepf said: “Communication is so important and learning how to express ourselves is vital in every aspect of our lives. Using poetry and prose Book Buddies encourages a whole new world of imagination and creativity which is so important for young minds.
Verbal Arts Chief Executive James Kerr said: “Book Buddies includes reading aloud, shared reading and close reading all aimed at encouraging reading for enjoyment. Reading also leads to discussions and conversations which can lead to friendships, which in turn creates bonds and stronger communities.
Barnardo’s NI works for children first and last. In over 100 years, they have helped improve the lives and opportunities of tens of thousands of children in communities across Northern Ireland, working wherever children need them most. Across Northern Ireland, they have over 40 services for children and young people, work in over 200 schools, with over 500 volunteers and over 30 shops.