Elaine Cutts has learnt how to read and write through playing Scrabble at Anglicare’s Killara Respite Centre in Cleveland, Brisbane.
Elaine Cutts has learnt how to read and write through playing Scrabble at Anglicare’s Killara Respite Centre in Cleveland, Brisbane. Anglicare’s Killara Respite Centre

Learning to read and write one Scrabble game at a time

EVER played the board game Scrabble and been stuck trying to figure out the proper spelling of a word?

Well spare a thought for 87-year-old Elaine Cutts who played her first game three years ago not knowing how to read or write!

"When I first started coming to (Anglicare's Killara Respite Centre) I couldn't read," Elaine said. "One day, June (a worker at the centre) said to me 'why don't we have a game of Scrabble?'.

"I said 'I can't' play Scrabble, I can't spell' and she said 'well I'll help you' and so she started teaching me."

What happened next is an inspirational story of how you're never too old to learn something new as Elaine, with the help of the centre's staff, discovered the basics of the English language one game of Scrabble at a time.

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"They've taught me a lot," she said. "When I would arrive, the Scrabble came out and we'd play all day.

"Because of that I started learning how to spell."

The Sunshine Coast resident never attended school as she lived and worked on the land in New South Wales. Later in life, her time was taken up raising nine children.

But now that she's picked up the Scrabble bug, Elaine is hooked on learning!

"Sometimes through the night I'll wake up and a word will pop into my head and I keep spelling it until I get it right," she said.

"I won't go back to sleep until I've looked it up in the dictionary."

It's estimated that one in seven Australians have poor literacy skills and one in 30 people are at risk of social exclusion or unemployment due to being unable to read and write.

Find out more about Anglicare's work in caring for and supporting the community at www.anglicaresq.org.au.


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