HOPE, a beautifully-illustrated a children’s book, produced by the University of Newcastle’s AIM High program, is encouraging children across the Hunter to aspire to a career.

Written by AIM High team member Matt Lumb and illustrated by Kiara Mucci, HOPE borrows from the field of positive psychology to explore the ways in which individuals aspire by identifying and then navigating pathways through often difficult circumstances towards goals that have meaning and purpose.

HOPE complements the University’s Careers Through Reading program and the broader objectives of the AIM High program.

Careers Through Reading is a multi-visit outreach program that began as a partnership with Cessnock Public School in 2010 through discussions with principal Jenny Rozynski.  The program is now delivered in many schools across the Hunter and Central/Mid North Coasts and involves students in Year 2 and Year 5 being introduced to a variety of career and study options by university students reading them children’s books related to their study/career. An important component of the Careers Through Reading program is the ‘graduation gift’ of a children’s book on the final day of the program.

As part of the book’s launch in June, Gillean Shaw from the University Art Gallery curated an art exhibition based on the book illustrations, which can be taken to both school and community libraries as well as regional art galleries.

The book is enhanced by a soundtrack written by University of Newcastle third year Bachelor of Music student Jayden Lawrence and by a narrated ‘sound scape’ incorporating the voice talent of Janice Petersen, University of Newcastle graduate and presenter of SBS World News Australia.

The soundtrack, ‘read-along’ soundscape and classroom resources will all be available to schools free of charge via a project website – www.hopebook.com.au 

About AIM High

AIM High program is part of the Equity and Diversity Unit at the University of Newcastle and seeks to challenge social exclusion by supporting positive change through education. AIM High understands the relationship between attainment and aspiration. That is why the program partners with schools working to support the foundations of student literacy and numeracy, in the knowledge that early engagement is crucial to developing and maintaining open and enthusiastic minds.

The reach of the AIM High program is significant with 13 high schools and their partner primary schools involved across the Central Coast, Hunter and lower Mid North Coast. In 2012, 1200 primary school students, 2300 high school students and 600 family members were engaged in the program.

Evaluations from the AIM High program has consistently shown a marked change in participants’ perceptions and understanding around tertiary education. Students in targeted primary schools have reported developing a sense of engagement with universities and tertiary education. Similarly, parents report developing an awareness of the opportunities that further education affords their children and themselves.

The AIM High Program is involves a suite of tertiary education experiences for students, their families and teachers starting in Year 2 with Careers Through Reading.