At the Wetaskiwin Community Literacy Program (WCLP), January is Membership Month, a time for those interested in further developing their own or others' literacy abilities to renew or acquire their free annual membership in the Society for the Promotion of the English Language and Literacy (SPELL) which is the governing body for the WCLP. SPELL members contribute in many ways to the success of this literacy program. Of course, the program would not exist at all without those who come seeking help to increase their ability to read, write, do arithmetic or mathematics, use computers, gain specific goals such as a driver's license or their GED, to learn English as a second or another language, or to join their infants and children in discovering the joy of playing with words. Neither would the program exist without the dedicated volunteers who come as tutors to work one-on-one with the learners. Equally necessary are the volunteers who help organize the library and resource area, who serve on the SPELL Board, who wash the dishes and tidy the snacking area, who care for children so that parents can learn English,or who help in other ways. Of course, memberships can be acquired at any time that the office is open, but memberships are for the calendar year of January 1st to December 31st, and are necessary for participation in the Annual General Meeting held each February.
This year the Annual General Meeting will be held at the WCLP office at 5010 – 50 Avenue in Wetaskiwin at 7:00 pm on Thursday, February 28th. It will be held in conjunction with a Members Appreciation Night, a time to renew acquaintance, share dessert, and honour the most faithful participants. The AGM is the meeting at which the membership receives a report on activities through the year and elects the Board and Standing Committees.
The provision of learning assistance at the WCLP is organized under several different programs. The original core program continues to match volunteer tutors one-on-one with learners for instruction that is individualized and paced to match the learners wants and needs. There are English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for English Language Learners (ELL) as well as an option of individual tutoring for them, too. Senior Connect provides a means for seniors to learn computer skills through individual tutoring. Beginning interest in literacy is promoted through the distribution of the Books for Babies bags in partnership with the Wetaskiwin Community Health Centre. Rhyming Tots is a weekly program of fun with words for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their care givers. A version of this program reaches out to visit Day Homes several times through the year. Children in school who need extra help with reading may be paired with a volunteer tutor who meets with them at the school during school hours. There is the flexibility to truly provide “All literacy for all ages.”
In order to accommodate continued growth, the WCLP office and staff restructured during the latter part of 2012. There is now an Executive Director, Colleen Thiessen, working with Adult Literacy Coordinator, Veronica Malcher, and Family Literacy Coordinator, Wendy Graham. It is anticipated that this team structure will be able to serve continued program growth as well as generate funding for it.
SPELL is a not-for-profit organization which has a mandate to provide literacy services through the WCLP for free or on a cost-recovery basis. It is also registered as a charitable organization, so can give receipts for charitable tax deductions. Much of its funding comes from the Alberta Government.
The WCLP works in partnership with a growing number of local organizations. For example, on Saturday, January 26th, it will partner with the Wetaskiwin Public Library and the Early Child Development Coalition to present a fun interactive Family Literacy Day program at the Library between 10:00 am and noon.
The WCLP will be holding Tutor Training at its office the evening of Monday, January 28 at 7:00 pm.