Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
Child Writes Fund is a charity that ’empowers children to navigate their future through story’. The Child Writes program gives primary school-aged children a voice by offering them the opportunity to write and illustrate their own children’s picture books.
The Fund partnered with FRRR in March 2019 to create a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account to support its endeavours, and the funds raised contributing to delivering more programs in rural and regional areas where children are in crisis and making the library of books widely available via an app.
A group of approximately 15 children develop the picture books through a five-day workshop during which they collaborate on a single picture book (from initial idea through writing, illustration, publishing, launch and distribution) and address a specific issue relevant to their day-to-day life. The books present a range of messages, including addressing issues across health, environment, relationships, bullying, racism and exclusion. Through storytelling, the children are empowered to navigate these issues and create a product that can be shared by others. The books are distributed for use to locations where children are in crisis, such as local hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, The Pyjama Foundation and Ronald McDonald House. Copies of the published book are also provided to the group to sell and generate a profit.
Copies are donated to places (such as hospitals) where children are in crisis, allowing the child authors and their readers to be encouraged by the achievement and generosity of their peers.
Every book is also made available for purchase online in electronic form, which means that groups can receive royalties from the sales of their books.
Child Writes Fund also supports International Read to Me Day, held annually on March 19th, reminding children to be part of the conversation and remind their family they would like to be read to often. It is a social awareness campaign, reiterating the importance of reading to children, and children sharing this skill with their peers.
Child Writes Fund has worked with communities in crisis, like Eidsvold in Queensland’s North Burnett Region, which, when they took the program there, had the unenviable tag of being the location for one of the highest suicide rates amongst its young adult males in the country. They’ve also worked with the Queensland Children’s Hospital School, working with children who were patients, or a parent or their sibling may have been a patient.
Founder of the Fund, Emma Mactaggart, explained the significance of the hospital school project.
“It is a small school determined to give the children as much encouragement as possible, but the children inevitably feel as though they are ‘alien’ as they are not at their normal school. It was the week of the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon, so it didn’t take too much of a leap for the children to connect their sense of isolation to that of deep space; hence Luke goes to space, to discover things are not as amazing as he would have liked. He does dig deep though, and simply because he is determined, he manages to come back to his home.”