It's a shark!
Chosen by Biripi elders, the reading mascot for Paint the Town REaD in Taree was revealed at the initiative's launch, held at the Taree Community Garden and attended by about 200 people.
Anticipation for the mascot's 'hatching' was high among the preschool-aged members of the crowd.
For sometime prior, a mystery egg had travelled around different preschools and playgroups/family daycares, growing bigger each time it was read to.
Excitement had been growing amongst the children to find out what was inside and they weren't disappointed.
The ceremony saw lifesavers deliver the egg to the crowd where a specialist midwife helped hatch the egg and reveal the mascot to cheers from the audience.
The shark, named Gracie, will now stay in the community and travel around to different community events and schools with the aim of promoting and encouraging reading among young people as early as possible.
Paint the Town REaD in Taree has been funded by Communities for Children, Mission Australia and a number of childcare services.
Program manager for Communities for Children Bree Katsamangos said there is an impact on the education for those children who arrive at school behind in their literacy skills.
The idea behind Paint the Town REaD is to increase the time children are reading and in turn help in their preparation for school.
The launch was attended by eight preschools and eight playgroups/family daycare as well as 15 community service providers and other service groups.
Paint the Town REaD executive director Barbie Bates also attended. She is currently touring to many different communities to help launch the initiative.
Funding is in place for the next two years with the aim of continuing support beyond that, and encouraging the community to support it.
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