Most people on the West Shore can read and write, some expertly, some not — but the vast majority are literate in the common sense of the word.
That doesn’t mean people don’t need a little help with literacy. Your Literacy Connection West Shore has been launched to promote literacy with a broader meaning, for everybody from tots to seniors.
“On the West Shore there’s not a huge gap in literacy skills when it comes to reading and writing,” said Shantael Sleight the outreach co-ordinator for the program. “But there is a decline in people understanding literacy is embedded in all aspects of life.”
Your Literacy Connection is about building partnerships between agencies — Capital Families and the Sooke School District, for instance — with people who could use guidance, Sleight said. Parents, for instance, might need a few tips to teach their kids good reading habits.
“People get very defensive when you bring up literacy. This is about re-educating people on what literacy means in a creative way,” Sleight said. “It’s not just reading and writing. It’s about life-long learning.”
Existing literacy programs on the West Shore include kids reading programs such as Books for Breakfast and Metchosin Reading Buddies.
The Greater Victoria Public Library does cross generational training — teens teach seniors how to use computers and navigate the Internet.
Sleight said technical and financial literacy programs are in the works for West Shore residents.
The program is funded through a Legacies 2010 grant. Sleight has two years to help establish enough partnerships to make the literacy program self-sustaining.
The effort is encapsulated in its website sookewestshoreliteracy.ca, launched in early January. The site is a clearing house for information on literacy-linked programs and events.
The site also features stories about what people in the community are reading. Langford fire Chief Bob Beckett reveals he is into the “Scaredy Squirrel” series of books with his seven-year-old son.
“There is not a lot of access to services on the West Shore, there is no place that is a hub that people can access,” Sleight said. “That’s why we created the website — it is an interactive hub for literacy.”
Check out sookewestshoreliteracy.ca. Family Literacy Day Game-a-thon is Jan. 30, 1 to 5 p.m. at Ruth King elementary, 2764 Jacklin Rd. Kids and their parents learn literacy skills using games.