Celebrating literacy month

With kids preparing to return to school, it seems fitting that September has been proclaimed Literacy Month in B.C.

With kids preparing to return to school, it seems fitting that September has been proclaimed Literacy Month in B.C.

And Mission Literacy in Motion wants to spread the word to the community that it has programs designed to suit anyone’s needs.

A not-for-profit organization, Mission Literacy in Motion, which has been helping the community for 22 years, provides free programs for both children and adults.

“Basically, we break it down into two groups. We have family literacy programs and we have adult literacy programs,” said Candie Thorne, family literacy outreach coordinator.

The two longest running programs that may be familiar to most Missionites are Reading Buddies, which runs out of the Mission Library, and CALP (Community Adult Literacy Program).

Reading Buddies has up to 50 volunteers who read once a week with children who are struggling readers. High school and middle school students often volunteer their time at the program to help younger kids.

CALP, on the other hand, is focused on adults.

“All of our adult literacy programs fall under that umbrella,” said Theresa Jackson, adult literacy outreach coordinator.

Literacy can mean many things. In some cases it is English as a second language while other learners need assistance with reading and writing, even though English is their native language. Sometimes help is needed to fill out application forms or other documentation. Mission Literacy even offers digital literacy programs for people who have difficulties with computers.

“Literacy is everything. It’s how you get through the day,” said Thorne.

While most of the programs run during the school year, from September to June, Thorne said there are some exceptions. One of those is the Mother Goose program for kids up to two years old.

“Really what it’s for is for the parents. They come, they learn parenting and they hear, all oral, songs, stories and rhymes. And you have your baby with you. You interact with them. You don’t get any paper, no words. You have to learn it though the facilitators’ repetition,” explained Thorne.

Other family programs include Homework Club, The Riot of Reading, Book Buddies and the Thursday Club.

“All of our programs, whether they are for children or adult and anywhere in between, they are pretty much learner-driven,” said Jackson.

Along with programming, Mission Literacy also has the zebra boxes located around the district.

There were 15 boxes, coloured to look like zebra print which contain used books in a variety of genres and age levels. People are encouraged to take the books home with them.

“They’re free. You don’t have to bring the books back,” said Thorne.

For more about Mission Literacy in Motion or any of its programs, visit literacyinmission.org.

Raise a Reader:

Each year, the Raise a Reader campaign helps to collect funds for literacy programs across the province of B.C.

DECODA, the provincial literacy group that distributes those funds, partners each year with one of Vancouver’s daily newspapers, to sell papers by donation.

“Over the years our Reading Buddies program has been funded by the grant from the Raise a Reader fund,” explained Thorne.

On Sept. 23, volunteers from Mission Literacy in Motion will sell the newspapers around the district, including in front of the West Coast Express.

Organizers encourage people to have extra change on hand for donations.

“Donations have grown less and less because people don’t carry cash anymore,” said Thorne, who added volunteers are always needed, for the fundraiser and for all of the programs offered.

“We couldn’t exist without our volunteers. They are the backbone,” said Thorne.