Alex goes from strength to strength with student2student

In many ways, Alex is a typical nine-year-old. He loves dinosaurs and technology. But, in other ways, Alex is not like most other children his age. He grew up with a stutter and his family struggled financially.

When Alex was learning to read, he found it hard to sound out words and he was very self-conscious about it. Reading out loud to his mum was difficult. Reading out loud to his classmates was torture. Yet reading is a fundamental skill that goes far beyond the classroom. It opens up whole new worlds of possibilities for children.

With only basic literacy skills, school was getting harder and harder for Alex. His confidence was at rock bottom and he was falling further and further behind his classmates. At home, there’s lots of love, but not a lot of money.

Alex, Smith Family student

student2student participant, Alex

Alex writing in his book

“You just take each day as it comes, and manage everything as best you can,” says Kathleen, his mum.

Like many parents in her situation, Kathleen doesn’t have the skills to help her son become a confident reader. As a single mum juggling three kids and a part-time job, she struggled to find the time to provide the extra support Alex needed. Kathleen herself was raised by a single parent, so without additional support, things were tough.

“If you needed something, you really just had to go without,” she remembers.

“We had next to nothing."




But when Alex needed that extra helping hand, Champions like you were there, providing the support he needed, before he lost all self-belief.

Thanks to you, Alex could participate in The Smith Family’s student2student reading program when he needed it most. Alex was paired with a reading buddy. Reading buddies are trained volunteers who help primary school students to improve their reading skills by reading from the same book, two to three times a week over the phone.

“The student Alex read with was fantastic!” says Kathleen. “She was an older student – still young enough to talk to Alex, and not so old that she was parental with him!”

Alex and his buddy read together using mobile phones, connectivity and credit supplied by our major corporate partner Optus.

“That was really helpful,” says Kathleen. “If we had to be out of the house, we’d take the phone with us and they were able to do their reading wherever we went."


You can tell with the sound of his voice, he is so much better at controlling the way he speaks, and keeping his nerves under control. The reading has really, really helped with that.

Kathleen, Alex's mum

Alex, participating in student2student

Alex enjoys reading with his student2student buddy

Your support meant that Alex and his buddy were able to start on books suited to Alex’s reading level, then progress to more advanced books when he was ready.

“The Smith Family quickly sent out harder books. It was really good!” says Kathleen.

Kathleen was thrilled to hear her son was more engaged in reading and learning than ever before.

“I would stand on the outside of the door and listen, and just enjoy hearing them read,” she admits.

You can be proud knowing that your support will make a real difference. In fact last year, 95% of students who participated in student 2 student improved their reading age – and Alex was no exception. As his reading went from strength to strength, so too did Alex’s confidence. Kathleen has seen a huge boost in her son’s self assurance and the way he’s able to communicate.

Alex agrees that his reading buddy made a big difference.

“She helped me to not feel so shy,” he smiles.

Knowing how to read opens the door to a world of learning – but having confidence means children can step through and explore. Alex would never have been able to be paired up with a reading buddy if it wasn’t for passionate Champions like you who believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best they can be.


Alex’s participation in student2student has really helped him in all areas. The reading for him is so much easier now. He can read his school books on his own now.

Kathleen, Alex's mum

I’m really grateful there was something like this to assist him. It’s wonderful.

Kathleen, Alex's mum

While student2student is focused on improving reading skills, there are also other benefits to the program which help children like Alex. When a reading buddy calls, it makes children feel special. It’s time with someone outside the family that’s devoted to them alone. This special time helps to build self esteem, especially in children who are often on the outside because of their disadvantage or inability to keep up with their peers.

“I’m really grateful there was something like this to assist him. It’s wonderful,” says Kathleen.

Thank you for being a Champion. Your gifts go towards life-changing programs including student2student. You'll help turn life around for thousands of disadvantaged children like Alex.

Read more about our student2student program.