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July 30, 2020 - QLD FIRST: CASSOWARY COAST LIBRARIES LAUNCH NEXT CHAPTER BOOK CLUB FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

In a first for Queensland, Cassowary Coast Libraries has this week launched a Book Club especially for adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Meeting every Wednesday from 10.30am at the Innisfail Library, Next Chapter Book Club is a community-based program for individuals with Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other types of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Attending the inaugural Book Club yesterday was Cassowary Coast Regional Councillor for Community and Culture, Trudy Tschui who was pleased to see Council’s libraries be the first in Queensland to do so.

“Our libraries are such a wonderful asset to the Cassowary Coast community and I’m so proud of this new initiative,” said Cr. Tschui.

“The program’s ethos of ‘reading to learn’ rather than ‘learning to read’ really struck a chord with me.”

Awarded the ‘Innovations in Reading Prize’ by the National Book Foundation in 2016, Next Chapter Book Club is a world-wide organisation comprised of four to eight members and two volunteer facilitators who are trained to engage readers of all levels – including those who cannot read or are ‘emerging readers’.

According to the Central Office of the Ohio-based Next Chapter Book Club people with intellectual and developmental disabilities love books for the same reasons most people do.

“They enjoy being transported to different worlds where they meet interesting characters and learn about exciting new things and taking that journey with a group of friends makes it even more delightful and fun,” said a Next Chapter Book Club spokesperson. 

“The primary focus is on having fun with friends in a public place on a regular basis.” 

Yesterday’s event was attended by Cassowary Coast Councillors with several signing up to volunteer at future Book Clubs which will eventually be established across all Cassowary Coast Libraries.

“I hope to see this as the first of many such new initiatives for our community,” said Cr. Tschui.

Mayor Mark Nolan welcomed the inaugural members, describing the program as a simple premise with profound implications.

“Council’s very keen to partner with all sectors of our community,” said Mayor Nolan in reflection of a similar partnership with the Diverse Learning Centre.

“A couple of years ago we introduced a mentoring program with Innisfail State College, which we were able to successfully integrate with students of the Diverse Learning Centre,” said Mayor Nolan.

“Alongside Next Chapter Book Club, we look forward to the Mentoring Program happening again this year so we can continue this partnership with the inclusion of the Diverse Learning Centre.”

All residents who are interested in joining the Club or becoming a volunteer facilitator should contact Cassowary Coast Libraries on 1300 366 616.