Literacy project launched at the former Doncaster school of former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes

Doncaster Stories launched the Literacy Lab with the help of pupils from Montagu Academy in Mexborough, where the writer lived and grew up in his early years.

The space is in the Mexborough Business Centre, the former school of the world-renowned author – and it’s about empowering children to reach their potential through creative literacy.

Grade 4 children from Montagu Academy attended the launch event and took part in a series of workshops, including writing poetry with Laura Mucha and drawing with illustrator Chris Mould, who created the artwork for The Iron Man.

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The Literacy Lab was launched in Mexborough.

They also performed an original poem for special guests including Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones, Carol Hughes, Wwdow by Ted Hughes, funders from Arts Council England, staff from Faber Children’s Books and Jonathan Douglas, the CEO of the National Literacy Trust.

Doncaster Stories launched in October 2019, but this is the first time the campaign has had its own space, meaning it can reach more young people than ever before.

The Literacy Lab is part of a larger project to transform the Mexborough business center into a self-contained arts venue and works created by young visitors will be displayed to the public.

Thanks to Ikea, the Literacy Lab has been furnished with sofas, ottomans and bookshelves with titles donated by Faber Children’s Books for young people to borrow.

Illustrator Chris Mold has also created a huge mural of The Iron Man that stretches from the floor to the ceiling of the high space, and there’s a trail to go along with it, too.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rescue Iron Man’s body parts from the seagulls that flew around the building – find the seagulls, solve the puzzles and put it back together.

The resource can be picked up at reception so families can enjoy it at their own pace.

Phil Sheppard, Senior Project Officer for Doncaster Stories, said: “The Literacy Lab is an invaluable addition to Doncaster Stories and I look forward to seeing more young people using the space. We want children to discover that literacy is not just something for the classroom, but rather that literacy is a powerful tool for creative expression and includes everything from reading to performance.

Jonathan Douglas, CEO of the National Literacy Trust, said: “This project is a shining example of exactly what our local campaigns are about – putting literacy on the agenda of local partners, leading innovation, linking literacy and literature and develop initiatives in the communities that deserve and need them most. Our partnership with Mexborough Business Center is a fantastic development, and it was such a happy day! I loved every minute.”

To find out more about Literacy Lab and Doncaster Stories, go to DoncasterStories.org.uk or search for the project on Facebook.

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