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“Our commitment is to support adults in the local community to read, write and communicate through improved literacy skills. We want members of the community to have the skills to make informed decisions and the confidence to contribute to society.”
That is how Sharon Wills, Manager of Taranaki Adult Literacy Services (TALS), summed up the mission of this dynamic organisation. Formally established in 2004, TALS is a member of Literacy Aotearoa, the largest and most complete network of adult literacy providers in New Zealand.
The needs of adult learners are varied. Tutor Pam Murdoch explained that some students require a short burst of techniques for reading, writing and numeracy. For others the key is to gain confidence in their abilities after a lifetime of thinking they were ‘dumb’ because their way of learning was different from the majority, or because of health or other undiagnosed difficulties.
The Tindall Foundation wants to help develop the literacy of people and families in order to improve their wellbeing, resilience and progress in areas of their lives such as stepping up in employment. We supported TALS with an annual donation of $10,000 from 2009 to 2012 towards wages for its Manager, who is charged with leadership, day-to-day management, and ensuring that students received quality learning.
According to TALS Chairperson Tony Pugh, “Without the support of outside funding, the service would become extremely restricted in its ability to deliver.” Instead, TALS was able to provide adult literacy services in New Plymouth, Hawera and Stratford to 82 students in 2012, 102 students in 2011 and 113 students in 2010.
Numbers alone, however, do not reflect the impact that TALS has had on the community. Literacy is life changing, not only for the students involved, but also for their families, their employers and the wider community. It can help students to earn driver’s licences, gain qualifications, and enhance work prospects.
Willy Harvey is a Company Manager responsible for 122 personnel, yet he always felt weak in communication and spelling. “I picked up the courage, called Taranaki Adult Literacy Services and made an appointment to start classes,” he recalled. “I have found it very pleasant and have accomplished some good goals with word selection, spelling and best of all, writing, which I really enjoyed.”
Literacy marks a fundamental shift in how a person can function in society. One adult mental health service provider put it this way: “Taranaki Adult Literacy Services provides an opportunity to close a missing link for students. The difference between when the student comes to them and when they leave is phenomenal.”
For more information contact:
Sharon Wills, Manager
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