Rob Jones (World of Words Tutor)
NB The photograph is Rhonmdda Tunnel Society Chairman Steve Mackey
World of Words i.e. www.worldofwords.education (WOW) is a bespoke language, literacy, and well-being programme that visits several schools for daytime sessions and an after-school club. The classes across eleven years have been extremely fruitful and our project has always done the utmost to assist the schools. The staff and the children have been so grateful for our endeavour and the commendations we have received have aided our industry. The fact that I know that the schools want the best alternatives for the pupils and also wishes to accommodate good role models instils a desire to further the fine work already being undertaken.
As well as our school enterprise we have also formed a subsidiary group called Cultural Chapter that united disenfranchised, lonely, isolated and retured folk for socail gatherings, friendship and guest speakers over a cup of tea.
World of Words (WOW) is a non-profit, social enterprise with a management committee, policies and a constitution. WOW offers flexibility as it responds to referrals given by its partners. WOW also rewards its members and their families with a range of prizes and experiences. In 2009 Only Boys Allowed (OBA) began via the Read a Million Words quest to improve literacy amongst boys. A successful OBA led to an Only Girls Allowed (OGA) project. In July 2011, WOW began its philanthropic work uniting OBA and OGA. WOW takes interest in the young (and not always trouble-free) lives of children in a locality that has many problems (e.g. broken families, drug/alcohol abuse, high unemployment, random crime, ill health and a feeling of hopelessness). WOW offers hope and enforces positive values
WOW has brought Hannah Thomas and her ITV Wales News team in and this credit was an enormous tonic and ultimately to get national television coverage for World of Words and Ton Pentre Juniors was an immense achievement. This item profiled the forward thinking of WOW and its young members. Please follow the link: https://www.facebook.com/darren.jeffordbaker/videos/1853916591539472/
We were also on the Wales this Week show and again ITV Wales came in to interview WOW.
The attendance of the then 2017 Wales football Manager and Coach Chris Coleman and Kit Symons respectively was also a WOW led occurrence that took four years for me to organise – but, to see the many smiling faces welcome our illustrious hosts was a pure delight. The day was one of the most memorable moments in the history of World of Words and the feedback from all elements of the school was enlightening. I also write in The Rhondda Leader newspaper and at www.rhonddacynontaff.com with additional material in support of the school going through GTFM and Radio Rhondda plus social media. Please follow the link: https://www.rhonddacynontaff.com/2017/07/world-of-words-welcomes-wales-wizards/ for this example and a picture from the day is included.
WOW has also introduced many other role models and illustrious guests – and, these include multiple visits from:
+Welsh rugby international Morgan Stoddart
+BBC broadcaster Phil Steele
+ The English Speaking Union members – Lady Susan Inkin, Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards and former headteacher Marjorie Page have given their approval
+ Car mechanic and ace photographer, Tony Smith has exhibited his visual displays
+ PCSO and published children’s writer, Sarah Phelps has read to the kids and taken questions
+ Author, Mark Dorey has performed literacy sessions
+ Magistrate, poet and novelist, Lynne Tippett has chatted about her career and worked with the pupils
+ Claire Kendrick of The Dog’s Trust has led interactive English sessions; plus,
+ South African born motivational speaker and Sporting Marvels icon, Grant Adams addressed a full school.
+The Cat’s Protection League
+Welsh Assembly Member Leanne Wood
+Professional photographer Faye Chamberlain
+Chiropractor John Roberts
+Rhondda Tunnel Society Chairman Steve Mackey
+Sculptor and artist Barry Lewis
+Ex-Ugandan citizen Alnashir Pabani discussed his life in Africa and a move to the Rhondda which tied in to a themed school project
+and, acclaimed Welsh author Jenny Sullivan did an online presentation on 4/11/2020.
WOW is elated that the above visits have been a hit with everyone as these events take time and energy to arrange. However, the ideas and influence of this array of adults coming to Ton have been inspirational. These special days have made the pupils think outside of the box and their immediate environs – which can only be good for their development.
WOW has also sparked regular Treorchy Library visits that have seen a major increase in junior membership and the increased loan of books among our youths is a tonic. These statistics are pleasing as the town of Ton Pentre lost its book lending facility several years ago. Therefore, to take the children to Treorchy on the train – get them signed up as library customers, show them how the service works* – and, also get positive reading completed within the confines of this wonderful facility is another great result.
There is also a specific teen library here which is used by the local comprehensive kids to study in comfortable surroundings and complete homework. Therefore, to make students aware of the variety of opportunities on offer at these premises is very rewarding. One of the staff John Campbell-Rees is also a published novelist so the children have had a chance to meet him and hear about the process of becoming a writer.
To add to this adventure we have also arranged several tours of the Parc & Dare Theatre, Treorchy and that has entailed the background operations of how theatrical shows and movies are prepared and presented. This regular feature has even resulted in kids getting a chance to go on stage and show their performing skills while thriving in a unique encounter. The confidence of our kids goes through the roof when there is access to such channels – and, there is a buoyancy that leads to the ultimate feel-good outcome.
WOW also offers passes on details of free attractions and resources in the direction of schools and so much more that can help the cause.
As regards literary engagement it is also pleasing to see a mix of fact and fiction being utilised and books from the likes of both the Barrington Stoke and Rising Stars publishers have been especially popular with both genders. Recently, we have also explored literature associated with specific days such as November 5 and December 25 in order to offer our audience more ideas as to the reasons for the importance of these days.
The groups have also shown a sway towards non-fiction in particular animal, car or football related literature. To add to which our own World of Words penned poems and stories have been well-received and the moral and ethical contents of many of the tales are absorbed – with lively debate following. There have been major strides to effect the ‘closing the gap’ requirements and the changes in the attitude and application of our boys has also been uplifting.
The extra insight afforded through liaising with smaller groups means that the kids can get more of the individual attention that they might crave. I have even done a few unnamed pupil profiles. I am also the forefront of coaching a separate after-school football club and I cycle to school so the children are seeing a WOW presence in alternative ways which exemplifies that a person can have various identities and some of our visitors have backed that theory – which sparks thought from our youthful audience.
All of the above unions come with some humour and a fun factor with praise aplenty – allowing headway to prosper; and, the mantra that reading is educational, entertaining and enjoyable has always been outlined. Our motto is ‘life is a test, just try your best’ is always central to our aspirations. Sometimes there is a desire to seek someone with whom the children can unload and I am glad that I can play such a role.
Our youngsters and their nearest and dearest have also been given a plethora of free rewards e.g. Tickets to see Pontypridd RFC (where the kids have acted as mascots). Others have been to see The Harlem Globetrotters, The Dragons, The Scarlets and Cardiff Blues. Meanwhile, more juveniles have been to watch both the Wales men and women play soccer as well as view Cardiff City FC and Newport County in action. People have also attended international wrestling events plus pantomimes at The Phoenix Theatre, Ton Pentre plus ventured to The Rhondda Heritage Park, Oakwood Theme Park and Cardiff Castle.
The WOW scheme is about applying motivation and engagement in order to spark an interest in the written word – and, from that juncture, the emphasis on promoting skill levels is the focus. An understanding of the kids and responding to their academic standing and singular interests is key to our objectives. Therefore, the introduction of different literacy materials (including our own stories) and diverse challenges every week has been a major success.
WOW is a further fine-tuning of the need for precision within reading. Regular chats with staff ensure that everyone is up to date with what is going on with WOW participants.