The AltFormat 2008 Story Competition - Sir Steve Redgrave Meets his Winners at the House of Commons

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Five times Olympic Gold medal winner, Sir Steve Redgrave meets his winning students from the AltFormat 2008 Story Competition. Hosted by Mike Foster MP and David Blunkett MP in the House of Commons, the nine dyslexic students and their schools were all awarded £25 000 of laptops, ipods and alternative format software by competition sponsors Dolphin Computer Access.

Creativity was the winner as Tuesday 8th July 2008 marked the finish line for nine exceptional students from across the UK at the House of Commons.

Like many dyslexic and visually impaired pupils, they had accepted the invitation to write a story, a challenge laid down by their fellow dyslexic, five times Olympic Gold medal winner, Sir Steve Redgrave.

Writing a story may be plain sailing for many, but not so for the 10% of school children across the UK that are estimated to be suffering with dyslexia. A specific learning difficulty that mainly affects reading and spelling, dyslexia is characterised by difficulties in processing word-sounds and by weaknesses in short-term verbal memory.

Liberated by the freedom of not being judged on their spelling and grammar, competition organisers AltFormat.org were inundated by a deluge of creative, inspiring and some heartfelt stories all written by print impaired primary and secondary school pupils.

Looking tanned and relaxed before heading to Beijing in two weeks, Sir Steve commented, "This AltFormat story competition has clearly allowed the children's writing skills to flourish, safe in the comfort of their spelling and grammar not being judged. Parents have spoken to me today about their child's confidence growing from this amazing experience and for being recognised for their creative intelligence, not just their dyslexia. I'd have quite liked to have had that opportunity available to me whilst I was at school."

Each of the nine winning pupils were awarded their trophies by Sir Steve Redgrave at a prestigious House of Commons prize giving also attended by AltFormat.org campaign partners; David Blunkett MP, senior members of The British Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Action, the RNIB as well as other MPs from across the UK.

David Blunkett, who has a dual interest in the success of AltFormat being blind himself and having two older sons with dyslexia, was effusive on the importance of alternative formats for people with print disabilities. David announced a new Government pilot to support Altformat. Later this year The Government in association with the publishers, the disability organizations and education professionals will launch a pilot to transfer electronic books from the publishers to schools to help deliver speedier altformats to young students.

David added the availability of electronic files that can be transformed into digital talking books, large print or Braille will create a more level learning environment for everyone with visual and print disabilities.

The nine winning pupils received a massive £25,000 worth of prizes including laptop computers, iPods and alternative format software tools for themselves and their schools. Prizes were donated by competition sponsors and education software specialists; Dolphin Computer Access.

The first place winners were Joseph Leeland from King Edward VII Sports and Science Community College in Coalville, Oscar Marshall from St. Annes College Grammar, Katie Lloyd Hughes from Clifton College Preparatory School.

In second place came Steven Butler from The Royal Grammar School High Wycombe, Aaron Austin Locke from Newlands School in Seaford, Jo Jo Macari from East Court School for dyslexia.

Third place was awarded to Rosalind McConville from St Marys high school in Lurgan, Hannah Birch from The Grange School in Hartford and Oliver Holden from Ovingham Middle School.

Read or download the nine winning stories at AltFormat.org.

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Neil Woodcock
AltFormat.org
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