From the Desk of Brenda Le Clair
Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a joyous holiday season with family and friends. As we transition into 2014, I am extremely proud to present you with our new e-newsletter.
We decided to convert our traditional bulletin to a quarterly e-newsletter format to be more cost-effective, increase efficiency, and take advantage of technology – all in an effort to you keep you better informed of our activities and the activities of the larger literacy community.
Our new e-newsletter will highlight upcoming events, feature recent success stories from the field, and discuss the impact that literacy has on the lives of people living in our province. Most importantly, it will feature the work that you – our supporters – allow us to undertake! As part of a larger literacy network, together we are raising the level of literacy and learning in communities – increasing the life chances of all citizens in our province.
Our newsletter will also serve as a platform for you to connect with us and tell us what’s on your mind. You will be able to take advantage of many of the resources we have available and link to other community resources and sites. We’re here to support you, just as much as you support us! Speaking of support, we are pleased to promote Family Literacy Day through our first e-newsletter of 2014.
On January 27, people from across the province and the country will take part in Family Literacy Day, an initiative that raises awareness of the importance of literacy for families. Participating in family literacy activities helps establish a culture of learning, which encourages an exchange of ideas, enriches family relationships, and bolsters confidence and independent thinking. Look for our special news feature hitting the streets in communities across B.C.
I believe our e-newsletter puts us one step closer to fulfilling our vision ofcreating a culture of community-based literacy and learning in British Columbia. As more people become aware of our vision, and our work, we will be able to advance literacy on a grand scale across our province.
I want to thank you for raising the literacy agenda in your community, and in the process, raising the quality of life for everyone in British Columbia.
As always, I encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or comments regarding our communications, and our work.
Decoda Embraces Family Literacy Day 2014
Decoda Literacy Solutions is a proud supporter of Family Literacy Day. Since 1999, this national event has raised awareness of reading and literacy-related activities to encourage informal learning across Canada.
Family Literacy Day falls on January 27th. Decoda is actively involved by encouraging our community partners to plan, promote, and host informal learning events in communities across the province. In addition, we are supporting our literacy community by providing activity cards and posters for our literacy professionals to circulate in libraries, community centres, and training sessions.
We encourage you to engage in 15 minutes of literacy activities per day for the entire month to help improve literacy skills of children and youth! Activities can include:
- Reading together;
- Telling family stories;
- Cooking together; and
- Going on scavenger hunts.
Studies show that parents and caregivers who participate in their own and their families’ learning directly and positively affect the language and literacy development of their children.
You can support literacy in your own family by:
- Joining our photo contest for a chance to win an amazing prize package!
- Share your Family Literacy Day success stories and post photos on Decoda’s social media sites: Twitter (@decodaliteracy) or at facebook.com/decodaliteracy. The event hashtag is #FamilyLiteracyDay.
- Visiting our webpage to download your activity cards and posters
- Finding activity ideas on our “Read All About Lit” blog.
Building Relationships Through Literacy
When Theron and Takaya travel to the Daddy & Me Drop In program, they don’t take his car, they take the bus and make a journey of it. His goal is to spend as much quality time with his beautiful little girl as he can. In fact, the reason he joined the drop-in reading program was to build a special bond with his daughter.
As a lifelong learner himself, a part-time coach, and all-around busy dad, Theron can’t find enough time in the day to be with the love of his life. “The only time I really get to be with my daughter is when I put her to bed or when we make breakfast together – we don’t have that quality time together.” As a committed and loving father this was hard on him.
Theron turned to his community paper to find a program in the neighbourhood that he and Takaya could enjoy together…something that would work with his busy schedule and be of value to his daughter. He came across the Daddy & Me Drop In program.
The program is partially funded through Decoda Literacy Solutions and it is tailored for fathers and their children (six years and under). It’s a welcoming place where father and child can play, listen to stories, explore books and even sing songs.
Every father has a different story. There are single fathers, fathers looking to give mom a break, and fathers who bring both sons and daughters. But at the heart of the program is a shared feeling that success in learning starts from infancy and that spending time with their little ones in an interactive environment will bring them together in a way that few other activities could.
“This program is amazing. They’ve thought of everything. The time works with my schedule and the dinner they provide allows me to focus soley on Takaya and spend quality time with her. It was important for me to find something in a learning environment, I didn’t want to take her to a movie every weekend, that’s not interactive and its not even realistic.”
Theron also talks about the other benefits of the program such as the social learning with other children, the bonding between fathers and the amount of interactive activities that allow him and Takaya to connect and learn together. “She loves it. She starts asking about it three days in advance. It’s become ‘our thing’ and I don’t know what I would do without the program at this point.”
The Daddy & Me Drop In is just one example of the importance of literacy programs in communities; programs that help build strong individuals and strong families. For Theron and Takaya the program has made a difference in their lives, bringing them closer and as he puts it, “giving us something we can build together.”
From the Field: Born to Teach, Inspired to Act
As a school teacher for 34 years, Barb Mancell understands the importance of literacy. She also knows a lot about dedication and commitment. She gave her life to the public school system and she was rewarded time and again as she prepared young minds to go into the world and find themselves. But Barb had no idea that others in her community were just as passionate about literacy.
It happened at a chance lunch meeting one afternoon. Barb ran into a friend who works in adult literacy in her community. She told Barb about her work, the need for informal learning in communities, and the people that they impact. Barb was still interested in literacy, and given that she had some time and wanted to give back to the community, she was a natural fit for a maternity leave position as a Literacy Outreach Coordinator.
Two years later, Barb is still working as an outreach coordinator and is driven to make a difference in her community. “I love my job and I cannot say enough about the people I am working with. I am inspired every day when I see what is going on in our community and the level of commitment and caring really drives me to do more.”
As an outreach coordinator, Barb wears many hats. She spends her day checking e-mails, responding to dozens of requests, attending meeting after meeting, writing newsletters and family literacy program plans and even delivering supplies.
But what Barb and other outreach coordinators really do is build relationships; they bring people together and mobilize communities; they identify and address local literacy priorities and develop and implement action plans to address those priorities; and they prepare people for the modern world. This is the true value of this amazing group of committed and caring individuals.
“I really had no idea of the scope of work that was going on in my community until I took this job. There is a need out there and I am working with a group of people who are qualified and committed to filling that need. We’re here to support people in their efforts to achieve their literacy goals and I will do whatever I can to make that happen.”
Currently Barb is working on several projects that are close to her heart, including preparations for a summer reading program called Stories Galore & Me. The family-and-adult literacy program is run in six parks and in three different communities, by two volunteers! Last summer the program had an average of 270 people a week attending.
Barb is one of 102 literacy outreach coordinators making a difference in people’s lives. They build strong individuals, strong families and strong communities.
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