Jesse and Andi’s great big walk – supporting kids’ literacy

andi and jesse

Thirty six hours until Andi and I head off to the United Kingdom for our long-awaited hike across Scotland (postponed from last year after Andi injured herself). Items are being crossed off lists, clothes chosen, whisky drunk (can’t be too prepared). Andi shivers every time she sees the weather forecast, but I’m encouraged that the temperatures are now at least in double figures, albeit at the lower end.

RtR logo, tagline underneathWe are taking the chance to support two wonderful literacy charities during our hike, Room to Read (the international organisation for literacy and gender equality – for which I’m an author ambassador) and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation in Australia. Our fundraising page is here.

What does our walk have to do with literacy? Nothing really, but I like to think our training and tramping efforts will have positive outcomes beyond our own enjoyment, and might inspire you to join us in supporting the cause of literacy for young people whose lives will be literally transformed by the efforts of these organisations. Also, those organised charity walks such as Coastrek and Oxfam Trailwalker – bravely tackled by other friends – are just too damned hard.

southern upland way map

The Southern Upland Way

Kids’ literacy and creativity have become my burning passions of late. I’d love to share this contemplation of literacy from Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations. He said:

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”

Final presentation small

Kids at My Story workshop last week, run by Goonellabah Library

Sums it up pretty well. Reading and writing aren’t just entertainment. They are game changers, particularly for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

World change starts with educated children, according to Room to Read, a non-profit organisation focusing on literacy and gender equality through education in the developing world.

Since delivering its first load of books to a school in Nepal in 2000, Room to Read has built more than 1800 schools, established 17,000 libraries and published 1000 kids books in 28 languages. I’m a writer ambassador for Room to Read and our team of Australian authors is working to raise $40,000 in 2015. Donating to the Australian chapter of Room to Read will support the recovery of literacy programs in Nepal after the earthquakes.

Closer to home – National Reconciliation Week runs 27 May to 3 June – coinciding with the start of our hike. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation works to raise literacy for Indigenous kids living in remote regions, through supplying books, literacy resources, publishing and visits. ILF is the Australian Book Industry’s organisation for supporting Indigenous literacy and its patron is the Honorable Quentin Bryce. Last year the ILF supplied 120,000 books to kids in remote communities. Donating to ILF will support its important efforts in remote Australia, and be a practical step towards reconciliation.

I’m kicking off the program with a donation to both charities and hope you’ll support one or both of them too.

southernupland waypicClick here to go to our fundraising page on Everyday Hero and choose your charity. Stay tuned for updates as we tramp nearly 400km from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland between 1-19 June. I’ll let you know how much money we raise.

Many thanks for your support


About Jesse Blackadder

Living at the easternmost tip of Australia on the caldera of an extinct volcano, Jesse Blackadder is a novelist, freelance writer and Doctor of Creative Arts. She is fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and very cold places and has published three adult novels and three novels for children.
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