September 13, 2017

While in Europe over the summer, Adrian sat down with Katie Ivens, the Education Director at Real Action, a literacy charity at the heart of the extremely deprived section of north Westminster, which the organization was originally created to serve.

Literacy is a source of empowerment.

Imagine not being able to…

Illiteracy has tremendous consequences that affect our entire society.
Reading specialists and educators have long known that literacy - the ability to read and write - is tied to everything we do and that connections in social situations and practices are very important in developing literacy skills in children.

Today, literacy is evolving into much more than the ability to read a newspaper and the latest bestseller. For many teachers and students, it is also about being intellectually, culturally, and electronically capable. 

When children can’t read properly, they suffer. The cost to their potential is immeasurable. Thinking processes, unenhanced by literacy, become stunted. Communication is blunted. This affects behavior. For many there is no language beyond ‘street’ language, no culture or values beyond ‘street’ culture and values. Cultural divides widen and harden.

And all the pleasures of reading, and the knowledge, culture and understanding that come with studying subjects like English literature, history, geography, and the sciences are out of reach. So is higher education, and choice among careers.

Real Action Saturday Butterfly Reading
Real Action Saturday Butterfly Reading

The statistics of literacy in the UK are shocking and show the scale of the challenge faced:

Real Action is an independent, community-led, specialist educational charity. They transform lives through literacy.

Real Action is best known for the outstanding achievement of the children they teach at their Butterfly literacy classes – on Saturdays, and in schools. They are based in a West London community with the UK’s highest level of child deprivation. 

The Learning Store is Real Action’s home and center of operations. They are strategically placed on Mozart Street, at the heart of the extremely deprived section of north Westminster, which the charity was originally created to serve.

Adrian got the opportunity to stop by The Learning Store and talk with Katie Ivens, the Education Director.

At 9 years old, Rachel Ritchie realized as she played on the playground with her friends there were several children that had to sit out.

“I thought it wasn’t fair, I was like why should they have to sit out while me and my friends can play. I want to be friends with them, I want to play alongside them,” Rachel, who is now 13, recalled.

That incident sparked the idea to build a playground in her hometown of Vine Grove, Kentucky, built specifically to accommodate children of all abilities. Rachel took this idea, named it Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Project, presented it to city leaders and raised the funds with the help of her community to make her dream a reality. 

A gravel lot at Optimist Park in Vine Grove, Kentucky might not look like much, but to the now 13-year-old Ritchie it looks like a dream come true. It's a vision she had nearly five years ago that she refused to take look away from.  She continued to earn money to reach her goal, refusing to give up even when obstacles got in her way.

Last month, with the governor, friends, family and community supporters, Rachel cut the ribbon to open her playground to the children she said have kept her motivated from the beginning.

On August 26, John Bierly traveled to Vine Grove, Kentucky for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. John brings us that ceremony and an interview with the Governor of