Education is a powerful thing. It can open doors and change the trajectory of a child’s life. But for children who experience learning difficulties, there are more hurdles to jump to simply keep up with their peers, let alone experience the opportunities they deserve.
Learning Links is a not-for-profit organisation that works to empower children with learning difficulties. As a proud partner of Learning Links, we strive to help children and families in the local area through our ClubGRANTS program.
The life-changing work of Learning Links
Across six learning centres and over 170 NSW schools, Learning Links works with children who are at risk of falling behind at school due to learning difficulties and disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autism, speech and language disorders and developmental delay. Through Learning Links, these children have access to education specialists, psychologists, speech therapists and occupational therapists.
More than that, they also work with schools to raise the capability of teachers who are supporting children with these learning challenges in their classrooms.
“Up to 15%, or 3-4 children in every classroom experience difficulties with their learning,” explains Birgitte Maibom, Learning Links Chief Executive Officer. “This can put a lot of pressure on teachers. Without a doubt, the work we do raises the capabilities of children to learn but we also leave teachers with improved awareness of what to look out for, how to handle it and strategies moving forward. This creates an incredible sustainability around the work we do in schools.”
Because the team at Learning Links conduct pre-and post- testing for the children they work with, they know that the work they do has an impact. And that impact is changing lives.
“We help children who may be many months or even years behind their peers in literacy and numeracy and support them to a point where they are better able to do the work required in the classroom alongside their peers,” says Don Tilley, Learning Links GM Funding and Partnerships. “The parents are extremely grateful for how the children build confidence in themselves and their ability to learn.”
A long standing relationship
Over the past seven years, more than 350 children in our local community have benefited from our Ingleburn RSL ClubGRANTS to Learning Links. While Learning Links operates across NSW, the funds we provide are designated for students, families and schools within our local area.
The relationship between our club and Learning Links has only grown from strength to strength. It started with the charity housie sessions which are still run today and progressed to the support of our ClubGRANTS as we could see the tremendous community value of the work the organisation does.
“Learning Links is an impeccably run organisation,” says Ingleburn RSL Club CEO, Glenn Cushion. “Our board is very comfortable working with an organisation with the integrity and standing of Learning Links.
“One of our pillars of support is education, particularly early childhood education. Education underpins our society, and it can be a pathway out of poverty. Young children can so easily slip through the cracks so we really value and admire the early intervention work of Learning Links. They provide specialised support for students and teachers to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of children in our local community.
“When the targeted interventions for students who are struggling take place in our local schools, we are giving back to the community that supports our club.”
And from the Learning Links perspective, the relationship is equally strong.
“Ingleburn RSL Club drives what we do in the community remarkably well,” says Don. “They are extremely positive and have shown a dedication to help us get our message out there. We know that Glenn and the Board can see the value of our programs and that they are driven by a genuine desire to help those children in need in the local community.”
Making a difference, together
So what of the impact of our Ingleburn RSL ClubGRANTS to Learning Links?
In March and April 2021, a total of $95,800 was granted to Learning Links through our ClubGRANTS program. These funds were distributed across two projects in local schools.
In one local school, a Learning Links Education Specialist, was funded to the value of $27,900 to provide one-on-one and small group intensive interventions for students who were significantly behind their peers in literacy and numeracy. This support runs for one day per week across four school terms to help students build vital foundation skills.
At two other local schools, Ingleburn RSL ClubGRANTS of $67,900 were directed towards funding Learning Links Speech Pathologists to work in collaboration with the teachers on speech and communication interventions for the students. When children have language delays, they struggle to keep pace with literacy instruction. The interventions at these schools, one day per week over four terms, include team teaching, small group and individual sessions to improve literacy skills, language and speech development, voice control, cognitive communication skills and practical language and social skills.
These programs can change the path of a child’s education… and also their lives.
“We pre- and post- test the children,” explains Don. “We don’t think these programs work… we know they work. For children that fall through the cracks, when they go to high school, they can be up to three years behind their peers. Without intervention, they can leave school without the skills they need to get a job and can struggle with making and keeping relationships as well as communication and all this brings with it.”
The Learning Links programs focus on practical skill development to build language, social, literacy and numeracy skills and also give the children the confidence they need to participate in class.
Your club, supporting your community
At Ingleburn RSL Club we are advocates for supporting the local community. We believe that the undertaking of Learning Links to advocate for young children through their education journey is an important one. And we are so proud to do our bit to drive positive change in the lives of those children.
Together, we are making a real difference.