Rose opens book on world of reading

Describing his love of literature, actor Benedict Cumberbatch said, “reading is one of the joys of life, and once you begin, you can’t stop”.

For Rose Fitter, her chance to experience the joy of reading has been a long time coming.

After more than 70 years, the Mount Morgan pensioner is finally learning how to read and write with help from her carers and staff at Carinity Summit Cottages.

Growing up in numerous foster homes, Rose was denied a formal education and not once attended school.

“I never had any opportunities to do anything like that, I just worked. I wanted to learn but they wouldn’t let me do it, where I lived,” Rose says.

After moving to the Carinity Summit Cottages residential community last year, staff discovered Rose’s inability to read.

Carers Cheryl Cunynghame and Leeann Rolfe have been helping Rose on her inspirational journey towards literacy.

After doing 18 months’ worth of learning in less than three months, Rose can now read and comprehend 200 words and is enjoying primary school-level books.

“I have a lot of children’s books that have been given to me to read. There have been quite a few good ones and I’m reading a couple of different books every day,” Rose says.

“I’m happy here where I am and happy I can do something I couldn’t do before and that I have a new hobby. My friends are all happy for me too.”

Summit Cottages Residential Manager Margaret Eather says in 20 years working in the aged care industry she has never heard a story like Rose’s. She says the transformation in Rose’s demeanour has been significant.

“She has just blossomed, she’s happy and she’s interacting more with the other residents. Her self-esteem and general well-being has grown dramatically,” Margaret says.

The wider Mount Morgan community, from Carinity Summit Cottages nurses, gardeners and cooks, to local school students, is helping Rose on her literacy journey.

“The high school students come over in the afternoons and spend time with the residents and listen to Rose read and we’ve also got Grade 1s from the primary school who come and read with residents,” Margaret says.

Rose is looking forward to reading her birthday cards for the first time when she turns 74 later this year.

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