Last Thursday evening, our members were treated to a fascinating talk on literacy research by Dr. Lowen Clarke who currently works at Maryborough's Mill House. For well over a decade, Lowen has been developing a special literacy program to assist young, and even not so young children who have suffered trauma in their lives. See "Read more..." for details.
Trauma can have a profound impact on a child's ability to learn how to read and use language and that obviously makes life even more difficult than it would normally be for these young people. Lowen's unique program brings together physical play and sport with the use of language or words as a reward. In one example, a set of large toys such as a big pedal-car sized tram on tram tracks is set up in a learning area, with a number of puzzle or activity points set up around the room. The child, usually with a parent, moves "Sam the Tram" around the activity stations and attempts to complete the physical sports or puzzles as best they can, and when they succeed, they receive a word as a reward. The words are especially chosen to form part of a fun sentence that the child will complete by finishing all of the activities. As a result, the child learns how to read by having fun. The session finishes with a dance called the "Tramba" which children really enjoy. The program is supported with a number of books that Lowen has published as well as various animation programs. 
Lowen and his partner in this venture actually received a special international award for their program and were personally congratulated by Prime Minister, Julia Gillard when she was in office.