Jan. 27 is Family Literacy Day.
Bruce Mack, president of the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy, has been helping to organize the local event for many years but he says the community always needs to be reminded of the toll of low literacy and that the organization will be holding one of its largest fundraisers of the year that day.
“The statistics are fairly staggering,” he says. “Roughly 42 per cent of adults — people over 18 — don’t have literacy and essential skills to adequately cope with today’s demands.”
On Jan. 27, the society will sell Williams Lake Tribune newspapers to the community. All of the money raised goes to local literacy programs.
This event, says Mack, is to, “raise awareness of these real (literacy) issues; the second component is to raise awareness about programs and the support that is available and the third part is the fundraising.”
Literacy refers to many skills used daily like interpreting and understanding the written word, tables, numbers, financials and others.
“Those basic skills that most of us take for granted a significant part of the population doesn’t have the skills they need. It doesn’t mean that they can’t read at all but they don’t have the level of skills you need to be able to fill out forms or to read and understand simple basic instructions and brochures.”
CCPL provides programs that help individuals improve their literacy. In the society’s largest program, volunteer tutors work in the partner-assisted learning program where individuals can improve their literacy skills with the help of a tutor.
“It’s what the learner feels they need and then the tutor works with them through that,” Mack says. “A lot of people have used it to upgrade to go to college or finish high school.”
Other programs are Books for Babies, the Bright Red Book Shelf, Clear and Plain Language, and courses on financial literacy.
To administer the latter program CCPL recently received a $100,000 grant.
Literacy Week runs Jan. 24 – 28.