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Bendigo and Adelaide Bank sparking confidence in young readers

23 September 2015 |Media centre

Reading opens doors to adventures, new possibilities and brighter futures, as students in Adelaide's western suburbs are discovering.

With the help of mentors from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Kilkenny Primary School students are gaining confidence in their literacy and comprehension, laying the foundation for education and life success.

As part of ABCN's Spark Program, ten students have been matched with two mentors each from the Bank, who alternate weekly visits to the school, building confidence in the children and helping them realise their potential.

ABCN (Australian Business and Community Network) is a non-profit organisation that connects businesses with schools to improve opportunities for disadvantaged children through targeted mentoring programs.

This week, the students will complete the program, receiving certificates to recognise their hard work, and books to help them continue on their reading journey.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank fosters a volunteering culture, encouraging employees to immerse themselves in initiatives and programs that feed into the prosperity of local communities, said the Bank's Executive Corporate Resources, Stella Thredgold.

"We believe people should be treated fairly and decently, no matter their circumstances, which is why it is important for our Bank to partner with a like-minded organisation such as ABCN that offers additional assistance to higher need schools," she said.

"We encourage our employees to embrace a culture of volunteering to support the wider community, and this is a great example of what our staff can achieve in helping children to accomplish their learning goals and build their confidence.

"Our Bank is committed to generating opportunities for people in our communities to thrive in the long term, and we see the Spark Program as an investment in the future success of Australian youth."

Kilkenny Primary School Assistant Principal and Librarian, Tanya Pojer, said that she had witnessed a vast improvement in her students' confidence and reading ability since the commencement of the mentoring program.

"We have found that the students benefit greatly from having one-on-one support, becoming better aware of the concepts in the books through discussions with their mentors," she said.

"With their newly extended vocabularies, they now have the confidence to read a range of reading materials fluently, and are now able to comprehend different contexts, retelling the story in their own words.

"Our students have built relationships with their mentors, who support and praise them for their efforts, while encouraging them to challenge and extend themselves."

ABCN CEO, Jacqui Jones, said the partnership between the not-for-profit organisation and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, was improving opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged students.

"Many children have little opportunity for reading outside of school, so having the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank mentors work closely with the students from Kilkenny Primary School, assists in developing their reading and comprehension skills.

"The children have benefitted enormously from positive role models, providing them the opportunity to experience sustained conversations in English, building their confidence and self-esteem and making a positive impact on their enjoyment of reading.

"In 2014, 666 mentors, 468 students and 52 schools participated in the program nationally, with outstanding results; 100% of teachers observed that their students demonstrated improvements in comprehension, and 90% observed that their students now felt more positive about reading."

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has actively supported ABCN in both South Australia and Victoria since 2013, participating in mentoring programs that help students with interview techniques, coach future female leaders and guide senior school students through their final years of education.

To find out more about ABCN's vision to inspire, challenge and engage businesses to have a greater positive impact in the community visit www.abcn.com.au

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