Around 40 per cent of adults in B.C. do not have the literacy skills that they need to achieve their goals, to function and thrive in the modern economy, and to develop their knowledge and potential. That represents over one million people who are under-equipped to cope with society’s increasing informational demands.
Literacy is a “use it or lose it” skill. Filling out forms, reading schedules or menus, and understanding instructions are all difficult activities for many adults. But literacy can be learned, and with practice you can get better at it: just like you get better at riding a bike.
Bridging to Literacy was born out of a need to help raise the literacy rates in our communities. In 2007, boards of education began their participation in the process and were asked to submit a yearly district literacy plan to the Ministry of Education on behalf of task groups. In the spring of 2009, funding was received from BC 2010 Legacies Now to conduct community literacy plans for the communities of Ashcroft, Ashcroft Indian Band, Cache Creek, Bonaparte Indian Band, Spences Bridge, and Cooks Ferry Indian Band. Community Futures Sun Country was given the contract to implement the literacy projects, and $40,000 was received from the province through Decoda Literacy Solutions.
One of the uses of these funds is to provide grants to organizations within our communities that put on events which foster literacy. The application and guidelines can be found on our Facebook page at facebook.com/bridgingtoliteracy.
A Literacy Task Group was formed with members from each community, and a coordinator was hired. The group’s mission is to build literacy awareness and support through cultural inclusion, open dialogue, respect, support, and partnerships in the communities listed above. The coordinator does this through bridging the literacy gaps by presenting, supporting, and promoting literacy opportunities at local levels.
This year, the focus is on adult literacy. In January, seven tutors took part in a one-day training session to learn how to help adult learners with reading and comprehension. They are now available to provide free, confidential help to those in our communities who would like it. Anyone who would like more information can contact the Facebook page, or call (250) 457-7128.