Children at the Conservatory of Music literacy event in 2017. The Conservatory will once again host programs to highlight literacy week in January. (Photo contributed)

Literacy event sheds light on challenges of illiteracy

Programs happening across the West Shore

If you are reading this, you are, presumably, not illiterate.

You may, though, know someone who is either completely or functionally illiterate – unable to read at a level required to manage daily living and employment tasks that require skills beyond a very basic level.

It’s a problem that South Island Literacy wants to shed light on and begin to address during Family Literacy Week, which is Jan. 20 to 28.

“Every year we sponsor a big event for families to make them aware of our existence and the fact that we have resources and referrals that can help those people who struggle with literacy,” said Mitra Evans, the literacy co-ordinator for Your Literacy Connection Westshore – the local branch of the organization. “We partner with local organizations to showcase a variety of different activities and learning opportunities that families can experience together.”

The event runs on Saturday, Jan. 27 at a variety of businesses and service providers who will open their doors for fun-filled family activities to promote learning.

The West Shore Parks and Recreation Society is hosting a Story Walk in the Garry Oak Grove, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., during which participants will take a 40 minute self-guided stroll and read an illustrated storybook along the way. It all starts outside the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.

If you’re more artistically inclined, the Centennial Centre, 2805 Carlow Rd., will be the site for artistic literacy. A variety of activities will allow all people of ages to tap into their inner artist. Activities run from noon until 2 p.m.

And the society also invites the community to find out about more programs on the West Shore at the JDF Kids Cottage. Bobbi Neal, West Shore Parks and Recreation’s community development co-ordinator, is available to answer questions regarding the event at 250-474-8665.

Inside the Juan de Fuca branch, Greater Victoria Public Library staff are hosting a whole range of activities as well – all designed to showcase the learning opportunities available to the whole family.

Over at Royal Bay Secondary school, doors are open to community members between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for a range of activities highlighting learning opportunities that will range from dance to knot tying to painting.

In another artistic vein, the Victoria Conservatory of Music, 1314 Lakepoint Way, is providing an instrument petting zoo, which includes exciting musical activities for the whole family. All ages are welcome at that location and will be open from noon until 2 p.m. And finally in the same building, the YMCA/YWCA of Vancouver Island is hosting interactive workshops where the whole family can practice basic movement skills and play interactive games between noon and 2 p.m.

“As people attend these activities, we want them to also gain some knowledge of the challenges facing the community in terms of literacy. We want them to become aware of us and gain an appreciation of what it means to be illiterate,” Evans said.

“Illiteracy is a big problem that affects us all as there is a portion of the population that can’t function in today’s society. It’s also something that can be passed down from generation to generation as parents can’t and don’t read to their children or encourage them to read. The answer depends on awareness and the willingness to seek help.”

Evans said that she also hopes the event will inspire community members to offer to volunteer to help address the problem of illiteracy in the community.

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