The Create and Read Project helps Close the Gap

17 March 2023

Ngala Nanga Mai pARenT Group Program participants at the La Perouse Aboriginal Health Centre

Expected time to read: 2-3 minutes

A group of Mums and bubs have had the chance to become publishers, creating personalised hand-made storybooks for their children through the Create and Read Project. 

The Create and Read Project, funded by Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation thanks to the generous support of the Adès Family Foundation, involved a series of Aboriginal storytelling and art making workshops aimed at enhancing cultural pride and confidence.

Over 18 weeks, the mums wrote and illustrated their own books, supported by tools and guidance to help share their individual stories. They also participated in a range of reading activities facilitated by a speech pathologist and Aboriginal Health Workers.

The initiative was part of the Ngala Nanga Mai pARenT Group Program at the La Perouse Aboriginal Health Centre. This program aims to improve the health of young Aboriginal mothers and their children by providing a supportive educational environment while linking them to services such as access to transport, co-located paediatric and allied health clinics.

Carly and her three-year-old daughter, Tori, participated in the project and says it was a wonderful opportunity to express herself creatively while celebrating her culture.

“I created a book called “Tori’s Tea Time’ which highlighted the special bond my daughter and I share. The project allowed me to be creative again while also making something special for my daughter that she can have forever,” Carly said.

Tori and her daughter Carly at The Create and Read Project

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The book tells a story about Carly and Tori having a tea party and showcases artworks that Carly created along with Tori’s handprints on the back of each page to represent their bond. 

“Making the book was a lot of fun but it also gave us mothers a space to have a yarn with each other and to do something for not only for our kids but also for ourselves.” 

At the end of the Project everyone shared their published books and enjoyed a special presentation during which each child was gifted with their own library bag and Indigenous book.

Michelle Jersky, Arts in Health and Community Development Program Manager, says it was powerful to watch the women connect.

“The Project allowed everyone to come together in a culturally safe space to share their experiences and stories as mothers and women,” Michelle said.

Ngala Nanga Mai pARenT Group Program is one of the ways Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network is working towards improving the health of Aboriginal children and their families, and closing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people. Today, on National Close the Gap Day, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the positive steps we are taking while acknowledging there is still more to do; and the important role we all play in closing the gap in health inequality.

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