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Signs of Growth

Addressing unmet literacy needs through sign-making and outdoor activities.


This project aimed to tackle unmet literacy needs among homeless and disabled adults by providing a safe and relaxing space at the Doon Social farm in Limerick. Facilitators understood the effect that trauma and discrimination had on the lives of many adults they work with, so they adopted holistic and hands-on teaching approaches that avoided restrictive classroom-based literacy methods.

This project ran from mid-September till mid-November 2023. Nineteen participants affiliated with organisations like Novas, Moorehaven, and Ferndale House were split into three groups. Tutors used the great outdoors to help groups relax and have fun in order to learn. Learners took part in sign-making exercises using simple words, followed by making sentences and affirmations that were engraved in wood. Each learner also received one-on-one tuition as well as group time. Tutors chose reading material appropriate to their literacy levels, took photos of interest to the individual learner, and asked them to identify and label each photo. 

Learning outcomes were very positive overall. Participants said that their reading, writing, and math skills noticeably improved thanks to this course. Moreover, exposure to fresh air, nature, and healthy eating helped restore their confidence.   

Learners engraving words and sentences into wood.

This project was the result of a collaboration between Ballyhoura Rural Services and LCETB.

For more information, please contact Sile O'Riordan, Limerick and Clare Regional Literacy Coordinator at  

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