Ospreys lend helping hand to Welsh literacy

Ospreys stars lent a hand to an important child literacy campaign this week as they met children from Maesydderwen School as part of the Read a Million Words in Wales initiative.

Wales internationals Barry Davies and Richard Hibbard, along with former All Black and fan’s favourite Filo Tiatia, spent an hour talking to a group of ten pupils about their own reading habits and the importance of literacy in everyday life, as well as answering questions from the children.

In preparation for the session with the Ospreys, the pupils conducted research into the club and the players they would be talking to using the school and local library. They also observed a training session at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport, and were given complimentary tickets to attend a forthcoming Ospreys fixture by Ospreys sponsors John West Foods.

Ospreys player, Barry Davies, said:

“People may think that as a rugby player literacy is not of much importance, but it actually plays a huge part in even our lives. Many of the team use reading as a means of relaxation before a game, and of course we receive vital information on email on a daily basis from our coaches and the management. Of course, it’s also a matter of pride, being able to read is something that people often take for granted in others.”

The Read a Million Words in Wales campaign aims to promote reading amongst nine and 11 year olds, particularly to reluctant readers, which are predominately boys. A 2008 report titled ‘Closing the Gap between boys’ and girls’ attainment in Schools’ indicated just how serious is the poor attainment in literacy amongst boys. This also affects their attainment in other subjects. The gender gap in literacy applies to both English and Welsh literacy.

Rosalind Hall, teacher and representative of Read a Million Words in Wales, said:

“It’s great that the Ospreys have found the time today to talk to the pupils from Maesydderwen. It’s important for these children to have strong male role models, and realise that reading is not just something that’s ‘geeky’, but an essential skill for everyday life, even for a professional sportsman.

“Of course, the pupils can’t wait to see the players they’ve met today in action, so we’re very grateful to John West Foods for kindly donating the children’s tickets. It really will compound what has been an excellent learning experience for these ten boys, and as a result of this initiative, I’m sure they are going to keep up their new found enthusiasm for reading.”