The Bligh Park residents are two of the nine people featured in the second season of the documentary series which returns to television screens on Wednesday, 12th October at 7.30pm. The program highlights the challenges facing the 7 million adults in Australia who don’t have the basic literacy skills and 9 million who lack numeracy skills needed in everyday life. The nine “students” in Lost for Words undergo a nine week intensive course.
Leeanne says she was always making silly mistakes (she once paid $4,000 to Telstra instead of $400) and kept making mistakes.
It was when she booked tickets for the Powerhouse Museum instead of her younger daughter’s dance concert that she realised it was not something to be made light off.
“I went to show my tickets at the door and I had bought the wrong tickets .. which is something I do all the time.” She said fortunately someone in the queue had spare tickets for the sold-out concert so they did get in.
She said she was re-telling the story to her family when her brother Colin took her aside and told her about the SBS program Lost For Words.
“As soon as I watched the trailer for the first Season I knew I had to call them,” she says. “I had to change the narrative for my family.”
The mum of three, John (20), Holly (19) and Ella (13) did complete Year 12 but says she had a lot of help from her sister who used to write assignments for her.
She says her mother struggled with learning, she had trouble writing and she could see that her daughter Holly was struggling too.
Although Leeanne works at a primary school canteen, she has memorised the change to give the kids and makes a game out of their school orders by having them spell them out.
Making the decision to be part of the series meant she “had to let go of all my baggage for nine weeks. It was about changing my mindset.” She said doing the show with Holly was a great experience.
Holly left school in Year 10, works part-time at McDonalds and is studying her Certificate III in Health and Fitness but struggles to fill in forms.
While she is fiercely determined that her learning difficulties will never hold her back from reaching her goals, they have impacted on her confidence: “I have told myself I am not good enough every day of my life.”
She says she hopes that by being honest on the show it will help other people seek the help they need.
“I have always accepted that I have struggled and I wasn’t afraid to show that because there are a lot of people out there who are struggling,” she says. Following the show she says” “I am surprised how much my self-confidence has improved.”
Leeanne says the changes she has seen in Holly since the course are “amazing”.
Holly says it has changed the way she thinks about herself..
“I would say to people who are struggling and don’t think they are good enough that there is not just one way to do things .. you don’t have to fit into a certain box.”
Leeanne says if anyone is triggered by anything they see in the show they should reach out. “That’s the biggest step,” she says ”reaching out and getting help, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
The other “classmates” in Lost for Words include 72-yeard-old grandmother Barbie who just wants to learn to read and write her grandchildren’s names.
Literacy advocate, Jay Laga’aia who hosts and narrates the three-part documentary series says: “The first season of Lost For Words triggered such an outpouring of support from the viewing audience that it really reinforced the decisions made by our brave first batch of adult students to put their fears to the side in order to face their demons and take back a part of their lives that they hid from the community, co-workers, friends and even family.”
Jo Medlin, President of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy, said: “Season 1 of Lost for Words had an unprecedented effect on the world of adult literacy! We continue to be contacted by hundreds of viewers inspired to take the first step to improving their literacy, and others who have been shocked by the reality of adult literacy in Australia and are asking how they can help. “
Lost For Words premiers on SBS and SBS on Demand on Wednesday, October 12th at 7.30pm.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]