“I want to help children and adolescents to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills with my foundation  through stories written BY young people FOR young people.”

Nele Neuhaus

Nele Neuhaus Foundation: improving language skills through teamwork.
Football means the world to Jonas H. Not only does the ten year old train with and play for Mainz 05, he also spends every spare minute on the football ground with his friends. Jonas dreams of becoming a professional player one day, but he has a problem. He can’t express himself properly at school, especially in the schoolyard. He’s often simply unable to find the right words. Reading, speaking and writing aren’t his thing. It’s very frustrating for Jonas when other people think he can’t express himself well because he’s stupid. But he knows that he isn’t the only person with this problem. A recent international study conducted to establish primary school reading proficiency revealed that one-fifth of children aged 10 or younger have problems with reading comprehension. The Nele Neuhaus Foundation hopes to change that.

A project has been  set up in collaboration with the Mainz 05 football club and its sponsor KÖMMERLING to improve the reading, writing and speaking competence of young footballers between the ages of 10 and 17.

This is a special project because it is scalable. In other words, it can be transferred to other clubs and regions. How does the project team intend to inspire the kids to read? Since the youngsters represent a target readership with very little accepted  literature available to them, the project will encourage the youngster to write stories themselves. The objective is to produce a book about football containing stories BY young people FOR young people.

 

Nele Neuhaus and her foundation help children and adolescents to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills. KÖMMERLING is supporting Nele Neuhaus to give them a more positive outlook: Your window to a better world.

Language is a powerful tool.
What do the Nele Neuhaus Foundation and the Mainz 05 football club hope to achieve with the project? Why has KÖMMERLING made a substantial financial donation? It’s about more than just avoiding mistakes and using correct grammar. People think in language, so by extending their language knowledge they are encouraged to think in new ways.

The keys to improvement are reading, writing and speaking. By improving their ability to express themselves, the youngsters are also able to overcome mental barriers and grasp complex concepts. A wider vocabulary offers them better access to education and entertainment, and more descriptive language use increases the youngsters’ tolerance and reduces violent tendencies. Another positive effect is that the ability to express yourself better also has a confidence building effect.

The project objective is to produce a book about football containing stories BY young people FOR young people.

Write your story.
What is the Nele Neuhaus Foundation and Mainz 05 project that KÖMMERLING is supporting all about? The young players meet at the club and to talk about their ideas and stories on the subject of football with the support of a teacher. Topics discussed include:  How did I join the club and why? What was my first day like? What was my biggest achievement? Who is my best friend? What is my biggest dream? Who is proud of me and of what I‘ve achieved? Who is my favourite person in the club and on the team? What was my best goal or my best save? What was my worst experience?

After talking about their ideas the young footballers write their own personal stories in a group exercise. The objective is to create a book that other young readers will find interesting. A book with authentic content is always likely to be more appealing, and there is always more incentive to read a book like that than conventional literature. The readers identify with the content and, as a result, they access the language more or less automatically.”

The objectives.
Participation in the project encourages the youngsters to develop an interest in reading, extend their vocabulary and language use, and recognise the benefits. Their confidence grows as they become more familiar with their self-image and their perception by others. The children are encouraged to focus on reading, comprehension and use of the information gained as the basis for decision making. The ability to differentiate between information improves future opportunities and helps to prevent violence.

To put it in football terms, they’re ‘kicking off’ with this project and the book. Hopefully it will have a ripple effect and other children will experience the same positive impacts in other projects. We hope the project will become a big success.

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