I have just spent some time with Manu Hartsuyker, a freelance film producer and director in the Netherlands. She is not only a great documentary maker, but has also given herself over to helping others, both here in Europe and in Africa, South East Asia, etc.
Along with others, she has established a local initiative and supportive effort to transition young adults and teenagers into further reading and to promote reading as a pleasureable activity in young adults. Something I am very interested in and I know you will be too.
Clearly there is a lot of competition and distractions out there for teenagers, more than there has ever been. Things that capture the imagination of children and young adults are many-fold. The primary two are TV and video games, with puberty and match-making running a close third.
I would not like to say where reading and the exploration of the world and the human condition comes in, especially through the written word and story telling, but I suspect it is quite far down in the top 10 of teenager activities.
From Manu's perspective it is fortunate that in the Netherlands, the government and authorities are so enlightened. They encourage the establishment of charitable initiatives and the efforts of volunteers, giving freely of their own time, to help support others in whatever way they can.
The NL government does this by allowing the group to set themselves up under a charity status and is therefore outside the normal taxation burden of a small company or similar organisation. But the group is covered by this protection only for a limited time, 3 - 5 years.
Alas, Manu's group is coming to the end of this period and is now exploring ways of encouraging donations and sponsorship to allow them to continue thier work. Currently they are gathering ideas and suggestions that will help them continue and I believe they should be encouraged.
If you have any suggestions as to how the group can do this or things you have tried that have worked for your group, please send me a comment on my blog or go directly to Manu's website - www.leesmij.nl - where you will be able to find more information.
Please be aware that the website is still being worked on and is occasionally off-line. If this is a problem for you then please contact me here and I will pass your message on or arrange for Manu to contact you.
Thank you for your time and any suggestions you may have.