When Speech Pathologist Kate Jones launched a book drive to get children reading, she had no idea the hero of the story would be a seven-year-old boy from Kempsey.
Oliver Whatmough was looking for a chance to earn his Promise Challenge Award through Scouts when he heard his mum Belinda and Kate talking about the need for children to own and read books.
Kate, a senior Speech Pathologist with the Mid North Coast Local Health District, recently launched a project, The Book Box, with the aim of inviting local residents to donate children's books to the District's Speech Pathology team. The books would then be lent or given to paediatric clients, some of whom have never owned their own book.
Oliver invited his classmates from Kempsey Adventist School and fellow Joeys from the 1st Kempsey Scouts to donate books. The young man with a big heart then turned to his extended family for help and within weeks, 10 books had turned into 50.
Oliver stopped counting once he reached 100, and this week presented the impressive library to Kate.
"Oliver has been amazing; in fact, he has collected and donated more books than anyone else in Port Macquarie, Kempsey and South West Rocks combined," Kate said.
"Reading is particularly important for children, not only in discovering the magic of books but it benefits their vocabulary, grammar and communication skills and stimulates their imagination. Importantly, it also provides a much-needed escape from screen time.
"Oliver has done an amazing job, and is continuing to boost our library by issuing a challenge to other Scout groups and schools to join the Book Box and help other families to engage with each other through reading."
Anyone wanting to support the Book Box can drop off children's books at their local Community Health Centre.
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