There is evidence globally that a lack of basic literacy skills accentuates health problems.  Greater literacy skills can lead to increased confidence and knowledge with appropriate health treatment regimens being followed.  Those with low levels of literacy have higher requirements for public welfare assistance and are over-represented in correctional institutions.
A key intention, supporting the global initiative of past Rotary International President Bill Boyd, is to provide a coordinated and comprehensive distribution of Usborne Dictionaries throughout the District, particularly to low decile schools.  In the last year more than half the clubs in our district contributed over $15,000 worth of dictionaries to schools in our district.
Joy Durrant is the District Coordinator for this programme and she can be contacted at  Orders for Dictionaries must be sent to Joy and received before March and September each year.
Wanganui North Club is an enthusiastic supporter  -  here is their story.
The Club is an enthusiastic supporter of literacy projects starting in 2000 by providing “Books in Homes” through the Duffy Foundation to one of the local primary schools. This has continued each year and it is estimated that between $60,000 and $70,000 of books have been distributed over the 16 years of this activity.
We started distributing Dictionaries from the time that the Usborne Dictionary Project was first encouraged, firstly to one primary school and we built this up to the current day where we now give them to year 4 students at 3 schools, Tawhero, Wanganui East and Churton. Between 70 and 100 dictionaries are now distributed each year.
Some members questioned whether they were in fact a help and being used by the pupils. This was discussed with the Principals and the answer was a resounding YES. Out of these discussions came the idea that a quiz based on the information in the dictionaries could be held between the 3 schools. The schools readily accepted the challenge.  
The dictionaries are distributed at the start of the school year, then midway through the year (about June) we run a quiz into which each school enters a team of 3. The quiz is based on the understanding of the dictionaries and is attended by students, parents, Brothers, Sisters, teachers and Rotarians. A club member visits each school prior to the quiz to give the children an indication of the type of question that they can expect and spends a little time coaching them.
The format for this year’s quiz was –
Round 1 – A series of 10 questions answered by first off the buzzer.
Round 2 – 10 problems for each team to solve with marks for speed and accuracy.
Round 3 – 10 questions taken from the first pages of the Dictionaries.
The students all receive gift bags for their participation plus book voucher prizes for them and their schools. These prizes are sponsored by Whitcoulls, a local firm H & A Print and the Club.