ADVANCING LITERACY

The Hon. Verlyn Olson, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, presents a CIP grant cheque to Judy Bortnik, coordinator for the Wetaskiwin Community Literacy Program (W.C.L.P.).  Looking on are Chairman Margaret Chegwin and Treasurer Anjum Akhlaq of the Wetaskiwin Society for the Promotion of English Language and Literacy (Wetaskiwin S.P.E.L.L.), the governing body for the W.C.L.P.

 

 More than 20 years ago, the Wetaskiwin Community Literacy Program (W.C.L.P.) began with a basic mandate to match volunteer tutors one-on-one with adults wishing to improve their skills in reading, writing or math.  Very soon it included classes as well as tutors for learning English as a Second Language.  Much later, volunteers began working one-on-one with seniors wishing to learn computer skills.  Advanced Education provides the basic funding for an office, coordinator and class instructors, but not for equipment, for these adult programs for permanent residents and citizens.
 However, literacy outcomes can be greatly improved by early involvement with language and literature.  There is evidence that reading to baby before birth can actually help in future literacy skills.  Therefore, the W.C.L.P. has also been involved with family literacy for a long time.  One such program is Books for Babies which provides a book bag with a few books, including board books for the littlest ones, a first library card and other information to be given out through the Health Unit at the four month check up.  Another Family Literacy Program is Rhyming Tots for infants and pre-school children and their caregivers to enjoy songs, rhymes, stories, crafts and a snack together each week from September through May.  A similar program is also taken into Day Homes a few times each year.  Another aid to improved literacy for the young is the Little Pals program in which tutors are matched one-on-one with children needing extra help with reading within the school.  Funding for Family Literacy programs comes from a mixture of donations from the community, government grants, and casinos.  Therefore, the W.C.L.P. is very grateful to receive the Community Initiatives Program grant sufficient for the major part of the Family Literacy Program for the next two years, and appreciates very much the involvement of our MLA, the Hon. Verlyn Olson, and his office in securing the grant.  Thank you.
 The W.C.L.P. is continually adjusting its services to make them more accessible to its clients.  For example, childcare is now available during the English Language Learning classes so that parents may more easily attend.  All of the basic programs are free to participants.
 However, the W.C.L.P. is partnering with the Community Learning Council for Wetaskiwin & Area to help provide the English Pronunciation classes taught by Veronica Maltier and for which there is a partial cost-recovery fee of $20 per unit.  There are three units with six classes of an hour and a half each per unit.  Students who have completed these classes can speak English that is easily understood.  If you speak English as a second language, and are often misunderstood or asked to repeat yourself, this series of courses is for you.  I know that there are professionals in the community who would gain by taking these classes even though their written language and understanding of English is excellent.
 The Wetaskiwin Community Literacy Program is here to help everyone who wishes to obtain help with any aspect of English language literacy whether it be reading, writing or working with numbers, early language experience for wee ones or computer skills for seniors.   Drop by the office at 5010 – 50 Avenue or phone 780-352-7257.

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