C.O.W. Comes to Millet

Pipestone Flyer


Every 5th Canadian has very poor skills


International Adult Literacy and Skills Canada categorizes Canadians in Adult Literacy and Skill levels – level 1, 2, 3 or 4 &5. Most of us would like to believe we are in the in level 4 & 5 category and that we demonstrate a command of higher-order information-processing skills. The reality is that only 17% of Canadians possess this level of skills. Dropping down to level 3 are 35% of Canadians who possess the minimum skill level suitable for coping with the demands of everyday life and work. Level 2 Canadians make up 28% of the population and can only deal with material that is simple and clearly laid out. Finally, 20% or every 5th Canadian has very poor skills.

The study conducted by statscan (http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/ ) is used “to help us understand the importance of skills development and maintenance, how education and training programs can nurture those skills, and how those skills are used every day”. The study is part of an international program. It measures what activities adults do in their daily lives, such as reading, finding information, and using computers and technology, and to learn about their education, work experience and use of key work skills on the job. The study aims to provide a clear picture of the challenges we face as a country in developing a more skilled work force in the 21st century.


Brain development begins before birth 


Lisa Cottrell, Wetaskiwin & Area Early Child Development Coalition supplied information that explains the importance of addressing literacy at an early age. “Brain development begins before birth and continues throughout adulthood. An analogy that is often used to describe brain development is building a house. It’s a step-by-step process that begins with laying a foundation, framing rooms and installing the electrical wiring. The most intense development occurs during the first three years of a child’s life. Laying a solid foundation builds a strong brain structure, or brain architecture as experts call it. A weak foundation creates a faulty structure.”

As development continues, “The brain has to be “wired” properly and in the right sequence for healthy development. Every child is born with billions of neurons, the same number as adults, even though the brain is still only a quarter of its full size. These neurons, or specialized brain cells, have to be connected or “wired” to form “circuits," which control different functions, from basic biological ones such as hearing and vision to more complex thinking functions”. 

Local agencies take positive step to address literacy – C.O.W. Bus comes to Millet 

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment. Healthy development early in life improves a child’s quality of life dramatically and promotes the development of a healthier, more engaged and productive society.”

That is why Judy Bortnik, Wetaskiwin Family Literacy; Lisa Cottrell, Wetaskiwin & Area Early Child Development Coalition;  Margaret Blackstock, Millet Library; Debbie Pearson, Wetaskiwin Boys & Girls Club; Julia Karg-Magas, Wetaskiwin Parent Link Centre and Karla Tataryn, Alberta Health Services) invited the Classroom on Wheels (COW) bus to visit Millet.

Amanda DiMarus, a facilitator with the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) Project explained how the bus, “ travels throughout the province spreading family literacy awareness and supporting the work of local literacy programs.  This year we will visit about 90 communities.  The intent of the program is to involve parents of pre-school children in the learning process .” Parents participating in the workshop in Millet were taught  how to use books, rhymes, songs and items around the house to build on early literacy and numeracy skills. The parents had an opportunity to make their own materials that they took home to use with their children.

The C.O.W. bus parked in front of the Millet Library during the workshop was easily identified by signs and decals that provided a, “unique visual presence that helps to advertise local literacy programs and resources”. Inside the bus, parents and young children were invited to explore and enjoy the many books and homemade activities the fill the bus. 

The C.O.W. Project comes out of The Centre of Family Literacy to develop and improve literacy within families and community. The Project supports parents of children 0-6 years in their role as the first and most important teachers of their children. They give parents early and low-cost ways to engage their children in early literacy activities. 

For more information contact Megan Vander Griend, Alberta Prairie C.O.W. facilitator at (780) 421 7323. 

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