Feature Week 23: Foundations
Dr Fiona Wood and Bernadette Black are the featured ambassadors for Week 23 of the National Year of Reading. As well as being keen NYR supporters, they have both established Foundations that endeavour to assist members of our community.
Originally from Melbourne, Bernie lives with her family in Tasmania. She is a Councillor for the Kingborough Council in Tasmania, with special interests that include planning, environment and community development and youth issues. Bernie is also a qualified nurse and a public speaker.
Bernadette has had to deal with significant issues in her life, including the potentially life-altering effects of a teenage pregnancy, and has written a book about her experience as a teenage mother titled 'Brave little bear'.
Of her book, Bernie says "I have written this book hoping that it will bring a message of inspiration, hope and perseverance to women facing unexpected pregnancy and motherhood. They will see that their future can be filled with aspirations and dreams for themselves, and now, their new child. Life is the key. Live it well. Dream big, live big and succeed big. It certainly is possible, even in the face of adversity."
In response to her experience of teenage pregnancy, Bernie founded the Brave Foundation, a not for profit group that aims to equip and help transition pregnant and parenting teens towards happy, healthy and skilled family units over time. They endeavour to connect these teens to further education and community support services. The ethos of the Foundation is "From unplanned pregnancy to happy and healthy families."
Brave Group provides two education programs implemented at both State and National level, 'Gift of a Teenage Life' and 'Gift of a Young Parents Life'. Both of these programs aim to reduce risk-taking among teenagers. Bernadette's message is one of equipping others with the realisation that nothing is impossible, regardless of the opposition.
Further information about the Brave Foundation can be found on their website and facebook pages:
Bernadette's thoughts on reading
I gave a huge smile when I was asked to be a Tasmanian ambassador for the National Year of Reading. Personally I have always loved reading, and we have read to our three children 2 books every night - all up for 18 years now! Reading is one of the most powerful elements of being able to transition to a great step forward, no matter how big or small that may be!
Bernadette's reading habits
- When do you read? Whenever I get spare time, although usually just before bed. I always have a book or two next to my bed and have to confess to having a couple going at once sometimes! I also make a habit of reading the national news each morning- even if just for ten minutes. If I'm travelling for work then I love to read on plane flights.
- Are you a constant reader or are there times when you don't read at all? Because I have many different roles as well as mum to my three beautiful children there are small times when I don't have the time to read. Although I have to say that it always feels like there is something missing during these times. I am always more relaxed and energized when I make time to read, so I try to always have a book on hand.
- What's the book you've read most often?
'The bronze horseman' by Paullina Simons at least 3 times and 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte.
Which book is by your bedside right now?
I have three books, one that's always there - the Bible, then I have an autobiography 'Another man's war' and a Child's Psychiatrist novel 'The boy who was raised as a dog'. It all sounds very heavy hey!! I must say here that I love light comedic novels too, like 'Lucy Sullivan is getting married'. It's so important not to be serious all the time!
- What's your perfect holiday read? Always an autobiography.
- What was the last book you received as a gift? Jodi Picoult's 'Sing you home', my 19 year old son gave this to me.
- What was the last/first e-book you downloaded? My dear friend (and editors book) 'Where the words are' by Megan Sayer - her amazing journey to literary genius!
- Print books, ereader or both? I have read both, but have to say I like the feel of the pages - it's a tactile experience for me, a real escape. I'm on computers often with my work so the hardcopy version will always win hands down, plus they look great on the many bookshelves we have!
- What's the first book you can remember reading or having read to you?
The first book I remember loving was 'The little green hat.' I was given this book by my kinder teacher at 4 years of age. I loved that book so much I asked her to read it to us every week, so at the end of the year she gave it to me as a gift.
The second book I loved with all my heart was 'Little chick's story' I cried every time my mum read that book to me at age 6, and the crying was because the little chick looked so precious... I'll never forget the feelings that book evoked. Those two precious childhood books are on our display cabinet in our lounge room, after being read to our three children when they were younger too.
- Was your family a reading family? Yes - my family was a reading family. My mum always read (and still does - most of my books come across the Bass Strait via Mums!) and our parents would read to us each night. A great memory of mine was a photo of dad and I just before bed time, we'd just finished our story time. I used to love him reading to me the book called 'Tikki Tikki Tembo' short for Tikki-tikki-tembo-no-sa-rembo-chari-bari-richi pi-peri-pembo! I still remember all the words in that book. I found my original copy and we also bought a new one for our own children online a couple of years ago. My brother dressed up as that character in a school book parade some 28 years ago - that year I dressed up as Annie Oakleigh!
- Did you like to read as a child? Yes, I own most of the Sweet Valley Twin set and am revisiting the whole world of the Wakefield identical twins with my 11 year old daughter! We love talking about who we identify most with; Jessica or Elizabeth? Elizabeth for sure.
Bernadette's favourite reads
- 'Bridge across my sorrows' by Christina Noble.
Mrs Braillie, the mother of one of my best friends, gave me this book as a congratulatory gift when I finished my VCE 17 years ago. This was a huge feat for me as I was a teenage mum at 16, this book was like a right of passage- that my life was still able to be a great one and that I could possibly help others with my story one day.
- 'The Kitchen God's wife' by Amy Tan.
This book was my book of choice for my year 12 English. It held a key for me and I wrote about it in one of my final exams, it was a key to my future. I loved reading about the asian culture and felt such love of Tan's writing.
- 'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden.
This book is probably my all time favourite. It has been a 10 year spell since I last read it although this was a book I dreamed about (literally!) after my first reading.
Want to know more?
- Select the following link to read about Fiona Wood, our other featured ambassador for week 23:
- If you want to see the other National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
- Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.