One of the ELL Instructors, Linda Holm, left back, with three of her students.
The Wetaskiwin & District Literacy Program celebrated the end-of-the-year for the English Language Learners with a picnic at the Lion's Campground. All of the staff, some of the tutors, and most of the students were present to enjoy the evening of visiting and a supper of hot-dogs with a pot-luck. A number of those present had not been aware of the campground, so were surprised and delighted to discover such a lovely, convenient spot.
All aspects and all levels of English Language Learning are available from the Literacy Program, either through the classes or through one-on-one tutoring. This includes a set of three pronunciation classes running six weeks each which are very effective and are actually essential for anyone, including professionals, needing to speak with members of the general public as part of their work. In my experience, this is especially important for health care workers such as doctors, nurses, care staff, social workers, etc., who need to communicate with people who are already experiencing stress because of health issues, so certainly do not need the additional stress of difficult communication.
The original literacy program, pairing adults wishing to improve one or more literacy skills with a tutor, remains the core program. There are many reasons why even highly intelligent children do not acquire adequate reading, writing, or numeracy skills during their schools years. They may have had to miss school and/or leave school early in order to help at home. They may have experienced various types of turmoil in their lives, making them unavailable for learning at key times. The way they learn may be very different from the learning methods embraced in the classroom. They may have a perception problem which can only be alleviated through the use of the correct colour transparent overlay or glasses. They may have a learning disability which can be overcome through the right techniques and maturity. Life long learning can be a reality and a joy.
In more recent years, Seniors Connect has matched seniors with tutors to learn and improve computer skills. First based at the Wetaskiwin Seniors Centre, this year it added some of the seniors' residences to its sites.
Activities which prepare infants and children for literacy success are carried out through the Family Literacy Program. The three key aspects of it are Books for Babies, Rhyming Tots, and visits to Day Homes. Books for Babies gives every baby attending the Wetaskiwin Community Health Centre for the four month check-up a bag containing two or three books, a first Library Card, and information regarding early literacy. Rhyming Tots is a weekly program for infants to preschoolers and their caregivers involving reading stories, saying rhymes, doing crafts, modelling a variety of activities preparing for literacy. Day Home visits essentially takes the Rhyming Tots type program to Day Homes several times each year.
The Wetaskiwin & District Literacy Program has now completed its first year under its new Executive Director and enhanced staff structure. There have also been changes to the board and executive, with John Maude now the Chairman of the Board. The program is continuing to grow and local financing is gradually increasing to support that growth long term, a necessary partner to the more restrictive government and grant funds. The Literacy Program is a registered not-for-profit organization with charitable status which offers its services free, or to a very limited extent, at cost recovery.
The full range of Literacy programs will start up again in September, when there will also be a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Wetaskiwin & District Literacy Program.