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Literacy funding up for grabs

Sea to sky forums looking for ideas



How best to help people with low reading skills will be the topic of discussion at three forums to be held next week in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Funded by 2010 Legacies Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting B.C. sports and culture programs, the workshops are just three of 65 being held around the province that bring community and educational leaders together to find solutions to improving B.C.’s literacy rates.

Literacy B.C. estimates that 40 per cent of British Columbians have low-reading skills. Last year 20 per cent of the non-profit organizations budget was wiped out when the federal government announced $18 million in nation-wide cuts to literacy programs.

Literacy forums to be held in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton are partly in reaction to those federal cuts, says Leona Gadsby, head of Legacies Now community and adult literacy division. Gadsby said although the organization had already identified literacy as something they wanted to support the loss of federal funding that provided monies for stand-alone projects emphasized the need, a situation that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell wants to rectify.

“The premier is very anxious to ensure that literacy levels increase in British Columbia and that everyone has an opportunity to develop those skills to their best potential,” Gadsby said.

Legacies Now will give $10,000 to communities to implement projects identified through the workshops being held next week. Gadsby said other communities have come up with innovative solutions to local problems. Lillooet funded a renovated bus, a combination bookmobile and outreach vehicle, that heads to isolated communities to help individuals that can’t make it into town.

Although Whistler has literacy programs in its elementary schools Gadsby said it could be that something is needed for Whistler Secondary, such as after school homework clubs.

“And what about people who are dropping out of high school, where do they go and what happens to them?”

The free forums will take place March 28 at Squamish Public Library, 6 p.m., March 29, 1 p.m. at Mount Currie Gym in Mount Currie, and March 30 at 9 a.m. at Spruce Grove Field House in Whistler.