Business giants throw weight behind award-winning critical literacy project

Pictured launching the Irish News Young News Readers initiative are partner representatives Michael Hall (EY), Karen Hoey (CBI NI), Prof Peter Finn (St Mary’s University College Belfast), Annette Kelly (Little Penny Thoughts) and Terry Robb (Ulster Bank). For more information
Gary McDonald Business Editor

ALL-island businesses EY and Ulster Bank are joining lobby body CBI NI in throwing their corporate weight behind the 2021 Young News Readers initiative, a critical media literacy project run in partnership with the Irish News and St Mary's University College in Belfast.

More than 9,000 pupils from 100-plus schools took part last year, involving young students in Key Stages 2 and 3, who were offered eight weeks of activities that also introduce them to newspapers.

And with news such an integral part of people's lives now, whether it's related to Covid or Brexit, or to local and international events, those numbers are expected to be maintained or increase next year as the award-winning project aims to introduce a whole new generation of readers to the power of the news.

"We are delighted to welcome Ulster Bank and EY, who join CBI NI in promoting our critical media literacy project which we run with our partners St Mary's University College," Irish News marketing manager John Brolly said.

"The Irish News Young News Readers initiative has been widely adopted by teachers as an excellent way of developing literacy levels in children by introducing them to the world around them using trusted news sources.

"We have seen Marcus Rashford turning his focus to improving literacy levels in children across all backgrounds by introducing them to the `escapism of reading'.

"Marcus said he only started reading at 17 and that it completely changed his outlook and mentality. We need to nourish our children's interest in reading through developing their literacy skills."

St Mary's Principal Prof Peter Finn said when the project was launched at St Louise's Comprehensive College in January "who would have imagined what was ahead of us".

"Since March, the news has been dominated by the global pandemic and that will most likely continue to be the case in the year ahead," he said.

"In that context, The Irish News School Edition will provide opportunities for pupils to use critical media literacy skills to better interrogate the information that we are receiving about the impact of the pandemic on all aspects of our lives.

"The project itself is growing year on year with more schools, more pupils and now new partners involved."

Annette Kelly, founder of the inspirational wellness brand Little Penny Thoughts, will again be guest editor of a special Irish News School Edition, which will be published as part of an invigorating eight weeks of activities that offer a different way to challenge the knowledge and understanding of young readers.

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