LITERACY SUCCESS STORIES

An Architect’s Journey: Giving Back to Community Literacy

The following story was first posted on Bosa Property Foundation’s blog. It has been reprinted here with permission.

Literacy is a key that opens so many doors in life—that’s why Decoda Literacy Solutions fosters community literacy—and why Bosa Properties Foundation supports Decoda. With September being Literacy Month, we asked architect Gregory Henriquez to share his story about overcoming dyslexia.

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Architect Gregory Henriquez outside Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School, an alternative learning school in North Vancouver.

LEARNING UNLIMITED

Gregory Henriquez is the brain and architect behind some of Vancouver’s best-loved buildings: the Woodward’s redevelopment in Gastown, Telus Garden, and a landmark project underway for Bosa Properties on West Georgia.

He’s accomplished and articulate. Yet in Grade One, he struggled with reading. He had dyslexia, but in those days no one could name the problem. Because children with learning disabilities were segregated, Gregory was put in a class of kids with Down Syndrome. He went home in tears, but when his mother complained to the teacher, she was told to accept her child’s limitations.

But she did not accept the idea of limitations. She knew Gregory was smart and simply had a different way of learning. So she arranged for tutoring—and in eighth grade he got an A in English.

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Gregory with Jim Christopher, Head of the Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School.

OPENING DOORS THROUGH LITERACY

Tutoring and literacy opened doors for Gregory, and now he’s determined to help open doors for others in his community. He’s Chairman of the Board for Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School—a non-profit school for K-12 students.

Jim Christopher, Head of the school, explains that many of their students struggle with reading and writing, as a result of dyslexia or another problem that has nothing to do with intelligence. “Literacy is a fundamental building block for everyone in life. Without it, doors will stay closed.” For some, those doors are tasks as simple as purchasing groceries.

The school has become known as a centre for excellence, attracting students from as far as Squamish and White Rock. One family moved from Ontario so their child could attend. The alternative learning environment makes a huge difference to a student’s self-esteem. “Here they’re surrounded by support, and the other kids have empathy,” says Gregory.

Both men are quick to point out that ideally, learning disabled kids would be integrated into schools with others, not segregated. “This school exists out of necessity,” says Henriquez. “Traditional schools aren’t set up to address the problem. Kenneth Gordon is.”

To find out more about Bosa Properties Foundation and their charitable causes, visit the Bosa Properties Foundation page.

For more success stories, visit our Success Stories Page.

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