Stories to connect

A COMMUNITY based program has developed a series of local stories helping young Aboriginal children to connect the past with the present.

Our Words Our Stories provide the opportunity for 12 local Aboriginal people to become authors.

These adults met once a week for four hours over a period of 10 weeks at the Greater Taree City Library to produce their stories.

The program improved the literacy of the participants but aimed to put local Aboriginal stories into print resources to be donated to schools.

These literacy resources will provide Aboriginal children and young people with story books which are relevant and meaningful.

Debbie Horgan is the Greater Taree City Council's community outreach librarian and was one of the founders of the program.

Debbie emphasised that, although the program helped the authors with their literacy and taught computer and editing skills, the main benefit was the books that were produced.

These books will help to educate Aboriginal children in terms that are familiar and relevant to them, while also continuing the Aboriginal tradition of story telling.

Debbie believes the stories will help these children to make a connection between past and present.

She described the books as "real stories from real people", explaining that most children's books are written from an Anglo-Saxon perspective and are set in the northern hemisphere.

In total the program produced 14 books that will be donated to preschools, primary schools and high schools in the Manning Valley.

Mindy Avery, another founder of the program, said, "Not many people like Mondays, but I did because of this program. We laughed, we cried, we worked hard."

Chatham High School students are currently writing stories as part of the next step in the ongoing program.

The program will also be working with elders from Marangbah Biripi Aged Care early next year.

Although there is not yet confirmation, the participants hope for the program to become an annual event.

Our Words Our Stories was made possible with funding from the federal government initiative, Communities for Children, but is delivered through a partnership between Greater Taree City Libraries, Childcare Services Taree and District, North Coast TAFE and Mission Australia. Mission Australia was the facilitating partner.

Jasmine Kees is a former Wingham High student studying at Charles Sturt University.

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