8 The Reading Discovery program: increasing social inclusion of marginalised families
Creating a socially inclusive society requires the removal of barriers and the investment in action to bring about conditions where all children and adults participate as valued, respected, and contributing members of society. In this chapter we show changes in families’ social inclusion which resulted from a program designed to increase the preliterate skills of children by building parents’ awareness and conﬁdence. When young people are socially included they feel valued and supported
and acquire a social capital of their own (Holland et al. 2007). Social capital is both ‘bonding’ capital (that is, family relationships and networks of trust) and ‘bridging’ capital (outwards looking social networks) (Holland et al. 2007). Both types of social capital are considered important to social inclusion and an imbalance can lead to restricted social inclusion of the individual through negative social contact within networks (Holland et al. 2007; Staﬀord et al. 2003) and negative social environments (Wen et al. 2005). Social inclusion during childhood is especially important since children are
dependent on the quality of their family, community and school environment for positive mental health and wellbeing. Social exclusion, once established, tracks across the lifecourse. Those who enter school in a vulnerable state will tend to be less healthy, experience lower levels of wellbeing and be more likely to end up in socially marginalised positions as life unfolds (Hertzman 2002).