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Celebrities raise their hands in support of foundation for literacy

PETER OVERTON and Jessica Rowe have two extra reasons to care about literacy - daughters Allegra and Giselle.

Overton, the face of Channel Nine news, and Rowe, a presenter on Weekend Sunrise, are promoting the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation's Wall of Hands appeal, which raises money to improve literacy and numeracy in remote indigenous communities.

The Outdoor Media Association had donated $1.6 million in advertising, and celebrities, CEOs and sports stars are appearing in ads where they put their hands up to encourage people to sign up for the campaign and raise money.

''If people see a billboard or a poster, it might give them a reason to stop and think: 'Why don't we raise some money as a family?','' Overton said. Covering indigenous stories while working as a reporter for 60 Minutes inspired him to involve his family in the campaign.

Only one in five indigenous children in remote communities can read to minimum standards.

A giant sheet of white backing paper is being stuck on the floor as Allegra, 5, tries to wrap her sheepskin scarf around Alfie, the family's British shorthair cat. He proves elusive.


Allegra is in kindergarten this year and says her favourite book is about Bambi.

''As a mum I want to give my girls the best possible chance,'' Rowe said. ''Reading and writing is something we take for granted and it's so important to people's lives.''

This year's appeal will be launched on June 18 and run until September 9. Last year more than $220,000 was raised to fund a

literacy program in Mungkarta.

The campaign, in its fourth year, aims to raise $300,000 to bring a literacy program to Ali Curung, a town of about 500 people some 350 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

''Each year we're maintaining programs and bringing them to a new community,'' said Kim Kelly who co-founded the ALNF 13 years ago.

Under the program, high school students help teach literacy at primary schools. They are trained by university student teachers.

Reading and writing lessons are conducted in English and indigenous languages and the programs involve teachers, parents and community elders.