Thursday, March 7, 2013

Community News

One Book Can Change a Life

CLCS Literacy Challenge wraps up with prize draws

Staff/Voice photos


Literacy Challenge organizers brought their reader's prize draw to City Hall earlier this week.


uesday marked the fourth consecutive year that Debbie Denault, Chilliwack learning Community Society (CLCS) Literacy Outreach Coordinator, was at Chilliwack city hall to recognize winners of city-wide Literacy Challenge, and to give council an update on the group's community literacy plan.


This year, about 700 people took part and Denault noted that in the Challenge's inaugural year, there were 600 participants, 550 the following year and 1,598 in 2012.


"The purpose of the challenge is really to encourage everybody in Chilliwack to keep learning and reading is one of the ways that we learn," Denault said


During her presentation, a short film was also played about the Literacy Challenge featuring locals and Denault says that making videos was another way people can be engaged in literacy.


"We encourage people who want to do other reading to take time to do that. It's also a time when we encourage people to build a healthy habit of reading 25 minutes a day for 21 days, particularly people that find reading difficult."


People taking part in the Challenge had the option of using paper ballots which they dropped off at 30 different locations. Last year, CLCS added online ballots to their website, and although it was a slow start, the tempo has picked up and the online balloting tripled this year with over 100 participating.


The main successes for CLCS have been the volunteer tutor program called Community Access to Learning and Literacy and the English as a Second Language Program.


"This is a program where we train and match volunteer tutors to work alongside, work with adults in the community who generally have less than a grade 12 education, some far less than a grade 12 education, who want some help from someone else to bring up their literacy level."


"The numbers in those programs are really quickly increasing, we have been watching them grow over the past couple of years," she added.



Another offering from the CLCS are the red Ladybug Book bins. Denault says they are so popular that there's a waiting list for them.


"We currently have 2000 books out in the community where families can read while they're waiting or they can take a book home maybe forever or they can bring it back later."


Prior to the council meeting, Mayor Sharon Gaetz drew names for 10 prizes, including a $250 gift certificate from Pedal Sports.


Gaetz thanked sponsors and acknowledged the long hours Denault and the volunteers have put in. 

"I know it's a labour of love, but I know it's a labour as well," she said.


Prizes went to a cross-section of people ranging from toddlers to seniors.


"I think what I love the most is that there was a 1-year-old that won a prize and there was a 63-year-old that won a prize and a whole lot of people in the middle and it really is a wonderful thing I know.


Gaetz emphasized how important reading and literacy skills are in the community and CLCS programs compliment the Sardis Library slated to open in May.


"This is so complimentary to what we're trying to do in the community, which is to promote literacy," concluded Gaetz.




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