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Literacy No Challenge for Mountie

Clare People, Tuesday, 1st May 2007

Written by Pat Flynn

GARDAÍ in Shannon welcomed a delegation from Canada including a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to County Clare on Friday, as part of a scheme to promote a transatlantic literacy programme involving dozens of schools and libraries in Ireland and Canada.

Constable John T Kennedy of the RCMP, or Mounties as they are affectionately known, met with members of An Garda Síochána at Shannon and later with some of the participants of 'The Reading Challenge'. Cst Kennedy was accompanied on his visit by Eric Stackhouse, Chief Librarian, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

The visit is the culmination of a link forged last year between Clare County Library, An Garda Síochána, Canadian Libraries, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and 21 National Schools in Co. Clare aimed at promoting reading among children.

‘The Reading Challenge’ forms part of the ‘Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program’, which was established ten years ago in northern New Brunswick by the RCMP. The police act as the ‘bridge’ between the community and the library and in return the library develops programs and activities that directly impact literacy amongst children.

Explaining how the Challenge works, Patricia Fitzgerald, Assistant Librarian, Children’s Services, Clare County Library said, “Gardaí and public library staff visit participating schools where they explain the importance and fun of reading to the children and encourage them to use their local library. Once a month, a designated teacher in each school counts the number of books read before registering the tally on ‘The Reading Challenge’ website.

The Reading Challenge began in late 2006 and has proven to be hugely successful. The participating National Schools are Tubber, Burrane, Clouna, Carrigaholt, Doonaha, Lackyle, Killaloe Boys National, Ennis Educate Together School, Coore, St. Senans National School Kilrush, Moy, Mullagh, Corofin, Flagmount, Crusheen, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Cratloe, Moyasta, Feakle, Doora and Inagh.

At the end of the school year, the school that has read the most books overall will receive €2100 worth of books, sponsored by Scholastic publishers. Clare County Library is also awarding the school who reads the most with €2000 worth of books.

County Librarian Noel Crowley said, “We are delighted to have been able to partake in such an important and unique program. The Library Service looks forward to further developing the initiative in county Clare.”

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