1 PEI LITERACY ALLIANCE Mobilizing Communities Project Summary of by skatzz


									                           PEI LITERACY ALLIANCE

                         Mobilizing Communities Project

                Summary of community meeting notes

As a follow up to the PEI Literacy Summit held in November 2004, the
PEI Literacy Alliance held community meetings across the province. The
purpose of the meetings was to ask community members to identify ways
they can continue to support the literacy agenda and the new provincial
literacy strategy.

The invitation and information package asked participants to focus on
Principle 6: Mobilize Communities, contained in the 2004 Literacy
Summit Report.

Four community meetings were held in Summerside, Montague,
Charlottetown and West Prince at Mill River. A total of 44 people
participated in the sessions. Profiles of participants included people who
work in:
   •   work preparation programs
   •   adult education
   •   literacy committees
   •   Chamber of Commerce
   •   child care programs
   •   sector councils
   •   band councils
   •   resource centers
   •   francophone resources
   •   post-secondary institutions
   •   health programs
   •   federal employment services
   •   and learning disabilities programs

This list reflects the participants paid employment but it must be
acknowledged that these people wear many hats in their communities

and many have been long time volunteers in the promotion and
advancement of literacy. Several members were retired from paid
employment but remained active in their communities.

Session Overview:

All participants took an active role in the sessions. They shared past
experiences, suggested new activities and ideas, and developed a list of
possible new partnerships. The first three sessions were very similar in
painting a picture of what has been accomplished in their communities
and where the needs and gaps remained. We were reminded that lack of
consistent programs and financial support from government made their
challenges more difficult.

The final session was very different. Participants quickly dealt with the
standard questions and demonstrated they were well- seasoned, long-
term volunteers that have been working (some for twenty years) to
advance literacy rates in their communities. When asked to discuss
activities/ideas the response was “ … we can name a hundred things
that we have done to promote literacy in our communities.” An active
literacy volunteer who was unable to attend the session was cited as
saying “ I’m almost offended by the questions for discussion. We have
been working too long, finding creative and inexpensive ways to deal with
this issue. It’s time for government to make the commitment.”


-       Participants had a clear understanding of the negative impact of
        low literacy rates on their communities.
-       It caused greater demands on social services.
-       It created serious economic consequences for growth and
        development for businesses.
-       They understood how big the problem was.
-       They agreed that without government leadership through committed
        programs and financial resources, the problem of low literacy will be
        rates will be exacerbated.

Summerside Meeting: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What does a literate community look like?

    -    economic stability

  -   happier, greater self esteem
  -   healthy
  -   better/richer physical environment
  -   safer
  -   better developed infrastructure, more services
  -   self improvement opportunities
  -   active community, people like to make a difference
  -   open
  -   involved
  -   greater social interaction
  -   greater mobility / more access > in and out
  -   greater diversity

How literate is your community? Review of Stats Canada’s
Community Profile for Summerside (see attached)

What effects does low literacy have on your community?

  -   no services ie. Spell Read Canada
  -   fewer programs ie. learning disabilities; no diagnosis
  -   people quitting because of frustration
  -   very few child psychologists
  -   large class sizes - children get lost
  -   reading/writing problems
  -   most people don’t know the extent of the problem
  -   fear, adults embarrassed to be in classroom
  -   isolation
  -   need to get word out – radio, other media, churches, literate
  -   more demand on social services

Name some organizations that you could partner with?

  -   schools
  -   adult education programs
  -   Band Councils
  -   Chamber of Commerce
  -   health/family resource centres
  -   employment centres
  -    CAP sites
  -   Council of the Disabled
  -   libraries

  -   service clubs: Lions, Kinsmen, Legion,
  -   Richelieu (French club)
  -   post-secondary institutions
  -   Laubach Literacy
  -   youth groups
  -   EPWIC
  -   Women’s Institute, Catholic Women’s League, Aboriginal Women’s
      Association, DAWN
  -   RCMP
  -   municipalities


  -   grocery sack available at the family resource center; children
      identify groceries by pictures and words; store staff encourage it;
      built in additional activity to win stickers; have weekly draw for
  -   present books for babies and little ones at the hospital
  -   Welcome Wagons to include books for children
  -   services for family literacy
  -   competitions to promote reading: prize given as incentive ie.
      membership to new pool
  -   involve schools/municipalities
  -    Literacy Bingo – spell word and find on card
  -   community schools- create parent/child programs
  -   identify places to promote literacy ie. day cares; churches; seniors’
      homes; family resource centres
  -   local computer store partnering with boys/girls clubs
  -   S/L computers play station competition- could add chess etc.
  -   RCMP/ Walmart project in New Glasgow, NS - Mounties wore dress
      uniform, collected monies in their boots to buy books for children
      outside the Walmart store; Walmart staff dressed as characters
      from well known children’s books; lots of participation
  -   insert literacy promotion in Maritime Electric Bill
  -   family literacy days, celebrate literacy at existing fairs
  -   small retailers - asked kids to spell a word when they come to the
  -   community literacy displays
  -   one person performances targeted at schools
  -   advertisements

NB. Agenda was modified for the following meetings. Please see

Montague Meeting: Thursday, April 20, 2006

What does literacy means to you?

   - communication: reading for enjoyment; instruction; day to day
     operation; signs/packages
   - filling out job applications
   - ability to use computers – adds a whole new dimension to
     accessing information
   - computer literacy- one study showed that students read better
     from computer screens than books
   - reading for health; physical; mental; prescriptions.
   - reading for safety
   - listening skills: understanding/telling stories
   - more than print; includes math and symbols
   - political engagement, voting
   - contribution to society - low literate people don’t participate in
     work like Fishers Assoc., Farmers’ Union
   - ability to research on computer increasingly important
   - operating appliances/symbols
   - size of print
   - provides options ie. inmates have low skills; correlation between
     low literacy and crime
   - low literacy contributes to depression and isolation
   - affects seniors, contributes to low self esteem
   - literacy becoming increasingly important
   - always need literate skills today
   - less employability, higher rates of unemployment

How literate is your community? Review of Stat’s Canada
Community Profile for Montague (see attached)

What is the impact of low literacy on your community?

   -   higher unemployment rates
   -   less employability
   -   low self esteem – low participation
   -   greater demands on health care system
   -   self perpetuating situation
   -   lowered expectations for post secondary education
   -   hurts economy > not able to find skilled workers; skilled people
       move; hard to attract new people; drain of skill sets
   -   businesses don’t thrive
   -   fewer services

  -   no/slower growth
  -   Example: workers bussed from Charlottetown to Poole’s Corner
      because business could not find enough skilled workers locally
  -   workers who don’t live in the community don’t contribute to it
  -   keep/raise standards you need incentives
  -   bar is low so is the standard of living, no motivation, no self -
  -   discouraging to residents > affects attitudes
  -   discourages entrepreneurial initiatives
  -   libraries/book stores don’t do well
  -   lack of knowledge of events
  -   fewer people participate
  -   stay within own circle (shame element)
  -   less involved, activities not relevant,
  -   people with low literacy more subject to victimization
  -   more apt to believe what they are told, no questing
  -   impact on children’s learning if parents have low literacy skills

Who should be involved?

  -   businesses
  -   employers
  -   Home and Schools
  -   health care workers
  -   parents
  -   clergy to identify people needing referrals for help
  -   learners > role models and participants
  -   teachers/administrators
  -   media
  -   politicians
  -   home care providers
  -   home school instructors/parents
  -   service clubs: Rotary, Lions; Masons, Kiwanas
  -   sports teams
  -   youth groups
  -   celebrities
  -   Carousel Family Resource Centre
  -   natural partnerships like booster clubs, facilitators and
  -   Cap Centre and East Tech for computer access

Think of an activity in partnership with Chamber of Commerce or
other community groups.

   -   Trade Fairs - plain language brochures
   -   business mixers, people sell wares/information
   -   set up literacy table
   -   involve Junior Achievement to show their products
   -   Montague Days - displays; reading related activities
   -   Christmas promotion for a scrabble tournament
   -   summer festivals/fairs; Ceilidhs
   -   copies of children’s books around community
   -   volunteers reading to kids while parents shop
   -   high school students looking for volunteer opportunities
   -   Community Service Bursary Program
   -   Example of West Prince Laubach sponsor Writers of Renown
   -   KAMA – request funds to build event around a notable person
   -   create literacy event around Jr. Achievement
   -   Southern Kings Arts Council - monthly guest speaker around
   -   Lions Family Fun Day
   -   show and sell - free day to talk to artists and performers
   -   referral from churches to literacy programs
   -   go to potential clients, don’t expect them to come to you
   -   family story nights at schools and community schools
   -   local celebrities - RCMP, musicians, sports people
   -   reading parties - things you can do with your kids
   -   poker games
   -   sports magazines/pictures activities
   -   employment related - formal and informal reading manuals
   -   need continuity - integrate or make literacy part of other activities
   -   more difficult to get volunteers
   -   CAP Centres
   -   gallery of young people’s accomplishments
   -   local media, newspaper to publish literacy stats
   -   promote book clubs
   -   try to encourage the municipality to support literacy activities for
       economic reasons

Charlottetown Meeting: Monday, April 24, 2006

What does literacy mean to you?

  -   able to read and communicate to survive day by day ie. medical
      prescriptions; phone book; job
  -   understanding information ie. bank letter
  -   applying information
  -   numeracy; math
  -   technological literacy; on line, computers
  -   able to function in society
  -   life long learning skills
  -   literacy leads to healthy lifestyles
  -   determines types of jobs; advancement and diversity
  -   able to pass on skills to children
  -   ability to explore options

Review of Stat’s Canada Community Profile for Charlottetown (see

What is the impact of low literacy on your community?

  -   less learning potential
  -   higher unemployment
  -   isolation
  -   less opportunity to participate
  -   making informed decisions
  -   self esteem > problems with employers
  -   don’t push challenge themselves and don’t see it as a literacy
  -   stress related to covering up
  -   leads to workplace accidents
  -   miscommunication
  -   higher risk for poor mental health
  -   burden on health care system
  -   perpetuates cycles of poverty
  -   shortage of skilled workers
  -   increase in foreign workers and workers from outside the
  -   lower expectations ie. lower wages; part-time; dangerous
  -   fewer options
  -   less able to compete as a province
  -   stagnated communities
  -   education may be less valued
  -   literacy skills affect “soft” skills (social) ability to interact

  -   less socialization
  -   bar is raised ie. prevents people from obtaining needed papers
  -   increase in underground economy
  -   increase in crime
  -   victims and perpetrators
  -   lack of awareness that people have low literacy skills

Who should be involved?

  -   public health
  -   community/service clubs ie. WI, Rotary, Lions, Sports teams
  -   employers re: workplace learning
  -   parents
  -   schools
  -   social services
  -   employment services
  -   government
  -   medical profession
  -   organizations that work with family violence > THA; Addictions
  -   churches
  -   libraries
  -   chamber of commerce
  -   municipalities
  -   youth groups

Activities/ideas for partnerships with Chamber of Commerce; Sector

  -   promoting literacy as a workplace issue
  -   encourage “bring your child to work” programs
  -   AWOL (Advocation for Work and Learning) develop business
  -   toonie dress down day to support literacy
  -   lunch and learn sessions - role play low literacy skills ie. Dyslexia;
      lack of understanding
  -   readathons
  -   setting up displays at mixers
  -   have chamber members volunteer to read to different age groups
  -   get media and sports people to participate
  -   promote different public figures going to schools to read
  -   have a pajama/slumber party at school to promote reading
  -   piggy back Jack Frost Festival with an indoor literacy activity
      component at the library

  -   have volunteers read in a pediatric ward
  -   promote the “Story Sack”
  -   identify meeting places ie. old YMCA, seniors’ homes, for literacy
  -   coffee cup stories/find sponsor to print success stories
  -   encourage students to stay in school
  -   welcome wagons for newborns
  -   promote family Literacy days
  -   co-sponsor book clubs
  -   find ways to recognize math/reading achievements

West Prince Meeting: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

What does literacy mean to you?

  -   independence
  -   confidence, self worth
  -   able to function >everyday activities, newspaper, medical
      appointments, read signs
  -   more employable
  -   better quality of life
  -   computer literate
  -   keeping up with technology
  -   banking tasks
  -   opportunities
  -   self confidence/worth

Reviewed Stats Canada’s community profiles for both Alberton and

 What is the impact of low literacy on a community?

  -   high unemployment
  -   type of employment
  -   greater health risks > mental, physical, emotional
  -   family breakdown
  -   stress on health system
  -   impact on generations
  -   place little importance on education
  -   fewer interactions/networking
  -   no access to technology
  -   fewer opportunities, can’t compete
  -   fewer businesses

  -   out migration
  -   bring in people to work
  -   can’t attract new people
  -   no buy-in by government/other leaders
  -   fewer services
  -   reduced political engagement >lack of understanding of how
      government works
  -   higher crime rates > perpetrators and victims

Who should be involved?

  -   every community member has a responsibility
  -   families
  -   schools
  -   health system
  -   Career Bridges
  -   Holland College, ABE
  -   Service Canada
  -   municipalities
  -   Dept. of Health, West Prince
  -   public health
  -   service clubs : Lions, Legion, Knights of Columbus, Rotary,
      Women’s Institute, Catholic Women’s League, church groups, West
      Prince Christian Council
  -   churches/clergy
  -   Kids West
  -   Reach West
  -   Rural Community Learning Inc.
  -   RCMP
  -   West Prince Literacy Committee
  -   Career Development Services
  -   Municipalities


  -   peer youth tutoring clubs
  -   homework clubs in elementary schools
  -   LOVE Project
  -   library reading clubs
  -   summer reading programs - Flying Reading Carpet, One/One

  -   partnership with World Literacy Assoc. for the West Prince Reading
  -   created menus in hospitals with pictures added
  -   learning centres
  -   floats in community day parades
  -   local students speaking about their experiences in promotional ads
  -   set up literacy booth at annual Christmas Craft Fair
  -   books for babies - first baby born after September 8th (International
      Literacy Day)
  -   flyers for hospitals and seniors’ homes
  -   bookmarks for seniors
  -   seniors for literacy, reading and story telling activities
  -   Write to Read contest in elementary schools (had two winners from
      West Prince
  -   Laubach tutoring programs
  -   West Prince Literacy Committee partnered with opportunity/
      employment Resource Centers
  -   WP Literacy hold their meetings in different communities
  -   annual literacy open house
  -   trained literacy facilitators
  -   produced a monthly newsletter to 60 members and wider
      distribution to medical and service centers
  -   presented to the province on what could be done to advance
  -   presented to National Youth Summit at Slemon Park in 2003
  -   served on several national planning conference committees
  -   information booths at all local festivals
  -   reading programs at the Fun Park in Mill River
  -   parking lot blitz > flyers on cars to promote literacy activities
  -   shopping bags
  -   prepared and presented to provincial committee on what could be
      done to promote literacy
  -   conducted a facilitation blitz to all service clubs, tutors and
      students in West Prince
  -   started Workplace Education under Laubach
  -   GED programs in communities- Tignish, O’Leary and Palmer’s
  -   Road (now delivered by Holland College)
  -   Laubach is overloaded, need more programs to address level I
  -   sponsored an arts project in elementary schools
  -   needs to be in the communities
  -   fundraising to send students to national literacy conferences

Want to See:

  - action programs with sustainable funding from the provincial
  - recognition of what has been done
  - don’t want another glossy report
  - community needs government input,
  - government needs to drive the process
  - government needs to provide resources
  - government needs to make literacy a priority

Community members are:

  -   frustrated with the lack of support
  -   to much reliance on volunteers to address this issue
  -   pilot funding runs out so does the impetus
  -   no longer want to promote the issue if there is no place to refer
      people, example of what recently happened in East Prince. Sixteen
      were on a waiting list for tutors, training was advertised, not
      enough people volunteered so people are still waiting.
  -   volunteers want new funding to support coordinators

“People in West Prince will buy in if the Provincial Government
kicks in”


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