I am terribly, un- apologetically bad at keeping New Years’ Resolutions. Which is why I have pretty much given up making them. I have a theory that I like to quote that January is the worst month of the year for giving anything up or taking up any exercise anyway, due to the cold grey weather, the lack of money and the presence of leftover Christmas pudding/cake/chocolate/ alcohol. (I’d be kidding myself if I said that any of this would be still hanging around past the 3rd Jan, but you know what I mean.) But having not made any fitness based NYR’s for several -this is an underestimation- years now, I am suddenly gripped with some sort of mad desire to do something, anything, to get a bit fitter. I miss being fit (ish). I get out of breath sprinting down the road chasing my fast- scooting children. And my competitive instincts are coming out in all the wrong places. I don’t want to be one of those ‘seems very nice but then knocks other mums to the floor in order to win at sports day’ kind of mums. And it’d be nice not to have to sit on my hands in an attempt to stop myself trying to race preschool children on bikes in the park.
But I need some extra motivation. So I’ve found a suitably weird sounding event to train for. It’s a 5k race. Now, I know that 5k isn’t a long way at all. It’s basically a run around the park. Some of my (questionably sane) friends run 10k, half marathons and even whole marathons with terrifying ease and regularity. I’m not saying this is a worthy sporting challenge. But, and this is the bit I like, it is a ‘Where’s Wally’ race. Everyone who enters gets a costume, and runs or walks the course dressed as Where’s Wally. (Imagine trying to find someone you’d arranged to meet there! Imagine the photos!)
It’s to raise money for the National Literacy Trust, who campaign to raise literacy levels in deprived communities. I read about the work they do for children who grow up in homes where there are no books, and whose parents struggle to read. I thought about how much I love reading, and how much our children love to read and be read to. I thought about how awful it would be to get important letters from school, from the council, from the bank and not be able to read or respond to them. I thought about having to sign documents you didn’t understand, simply because you can’t read them. I thought about not being able to read your children a bedtime story. It would be so utterly awful, like being blind, but not wanting to tell people you were blind. And I thought that dressing up like a, well, like a wally, and doing my weird, lumbering run around a 5k course would be totally worth it to raise money for a charity who help adults and children to improve their reading. I’ve copied and pasted one of their success stories here, just because I was so moved by it.
“Eight-year-old Mia lives on a tough estate. Most of the adults she knows don’t have a job. Her parents can’t read or write so no-one has ever read her a bedtime story. There are no books at home, no bedtime stories and no trips to the library.
Mia is only eight but she is already struggling at school. It’s tough being the one who hasn’t got the answer. It will soon become easier to hide the problem than to fix it. Mia’s brother hid his poor literacy for so long it stopped him getting a job. Recently he has been in prison. Her mum and dad want the best for all their children but they know their illiteracy is a block.
But a year on and against all expectations Mia has become the first reader in her family. The National Literacy Trust has worked with her school, holding fun storytelling events and giving books of her own to keep for the first time. We have taken her on a visit to the library and she has become the proud owner of a library card. Her improved literacy means she can keep up in the classroom. We will continue to support Mia and work with her secondary school to make sure she has the skills she needs to get a job. Now Mia has a route out of poverty.”
If you want to read more about their brilliant work, you can do so here.
It’s World Book Day on 7th March, and all school children will receive a World Book Day token, giving them £1 off a book of their choice. (Or the chance to buy one of eight special £1 books.) Lots of people reading this blog will be parents. If you are, and your children are like mine, already tripping over stacks of books at home -and learning how brilliant it is to read a great book – use the book token and then maybe you could donate £1 in return to the National Literacy Trust. Just to give those kids who don’t get the same chance a bit of a leg-up in the literacy department.
If you want to sponsor my Wally Run (!!) you can do so here. I can’t promise you a fast time, but I can promise to get as many amusing photos as I can to post on here.