New local children’s charity Imagine Nation is celebrating the fund-raising efforts of dedicated Hastings Half Marathon runners who helped raised over £5,500.
Imagine Nation is Country and Western star Dolly Parton’s book-gifting scheme. The local project, run in affiliation with the scheme, was launched in Hastings and St Leonards last year by Hastings resident and teacher Annalise Elam. She said: “Dolly Parton’s book-gifting scheme is a simple and effective way to help children do well at school.
“Imagine Nation’s task is to raise funds so every local child can sign up to the scheme and receive a new book every month, posted through their door, from birth to age five.”
Eighteen local runners participated in the Hastings Half Marathon and, along with a further three half marathon runners raised a whopping £5,513 for Imagine Nation. Annalise says the money will provide 2689 books for Hastings children. “That means 220 specially selected local pre-school children can be signed up to the Imagination Library scheme for one year and receive one book a month posted through their door,” she said. “That’s twelve books over a one year period.
“When the sun is shining Hastings can feel glorious. However, as we know, life in Hastings is tough for many children. Hastings and St Leonard’s is an area where children historically underachieve relative to children elsewhere in the country. Bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to the locality can make a difference, it can help to improve children’s readiness for school and most importantly inspire a lifelong love of reading.
“The aim is for every child to build their own personal library. There is evidence to show that the greater
the number of books owned by a child, the better their educational outcome, employment prospects and even health in the future.”
Annalise says the charity is already making a big impact on local children’s lives. One Hastings youngster, Miya has been receiving books from Imagine Nation for over a year. Her mum spoke highly of the charity. “Miya used to have speech problems but reading to her and repeating sounds helped. The health visitor said that receiving the Imagination Library books has helped Miya.
“The scheme has made me closer to Miya. She comes and sits close to me and snuggles in when I read to her. This helps me too. I used to be quite an angry person but reading helps me to calm down.
“I think it’s a good programme and every child should be on it. I want Miya to be smart and do well in her life, not like me. I think enjoying books will help.
“Without the programme I wouldn’t have started reading to Miya at such a young age. I wasn’t a big fan of reading but then I saw how Miya enjoyed the books which she got. Now I read with her everyday.”
Also supporting Imagine Nation at the Hastings Half Marathon was Sarah-Jayne, who is described as Europe’s number one Dolly Parton tribute act. She performed on St Leonards seafront to raise the charity’s profile and to support runners on the last leg of the half marathon challenge.
Annalise added: “This year’s Hastings half marathon has been described as the toughest ever because of the winds which gusted up to 40 mph.
“Hopefully next year’s should be easier! We are starting to recruit runners for next year’s half marathon. So do get in touch with us, if you are interested in running for Imagine Nation. We are working hard to build partnerships and raise funds to ensure as many children benefit from the scheme as possible,”
To get involved contact Annalise at email@example.com or for more information/to make a donation: imagine-nation.uk