Shantae’s literacy journey

A self-professed book lover, 15-year-old Shantae Barnes-Cowan was recently given the opportunity to help close the gap in literacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Shantae was recently selected to be the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Ambassador for South Australia.

As an ambassador she traveled to Melbourne with 14 other students to promote the importance of literacy to aboriginal children on Indigenous Literacy Day (September 5).

“It was great to help find books and raise money for indigenous children in remote areas,” she said.

“I like to give children the opportunity to learn literacy and read books. The kids really enjoyed it.”

As part of that trip Shantae met well-known children’s book author Andy Griffiths, who she described as ‘pretty cool’. 

This year the ILF hopes to raise $300,000 on Indigenous Literacy to gift over 30,000 new books to remote Indigenous communities.

Shantae has already played a part in that, helping Memorial Oval Primary School raise $100 through a book swap. 

Other agencies will be chipping in as well, with the Whyalla Public Library donating money raised from selling secondhand books to the ILF.

Samaritan’s Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Teresa’s campuses will be holding book swaps, as will Hincks Avenue Primary School.

To apply to become an Indigenous Ambassador, Shantae had to record a speech and send it to the ILF. 

The speech referenced how she has played basketball and netball at a local and state level, as well as having participated in a television commercial focused on bridging the health and wellbeing gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

“It was a great experience to be a part of,” she said.

“I hope the the information in the commercial has helped all Australian’s understand the importance of understanding health concerns surrounding Indigenous people."