Finding Made-in-BC Solutions to the Challenge of Low Literacy

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Challenges often require creative solutions. The challenge in Lillooet: how to make existing literacy services more accessible for learners of all ages. The community needed an action plan, and they developed one through the Literacy Now Communities program.

This innovative program guides local literacy groups through a process to create a literacy plan that meets their community's specific needs. While some funds are available, the process focuses on building partnerships and sharing best practices.

The Lillooet task group includes teachers, speech and language therapists, and representatives from local Aboriginal bands, and is one of 92 groups representing communities around BC. The Lillooet literacy plan focused on bringing literacy services directly to people in need.

"We have really good services in the communities, but people were not able to get to the various central locations due to lack of transportation or just not being comfortable doing so," explains Betty Weaver, literacy coordinator with the Lillooet Public Library. "We realized that getting people to come to us was not working."

The task group decided to try a mobile library and partnered with the public library to deliver the service. In October 2007, the Library Book Bus began travelling to four locations each month.

"There is a huge level of excitement, especially when we are in areas where there are little or no nearby services and people feel like they are cut off from everything," says Weaver.

Every community has developed its own response. In Vernon, a resource centre was created adjacent to a local shelter for the homeless. In Dawson Creek, a partnership with the Salvation Army provided literacy support for an adult cooking class. However different the solutions, the Literacy Now Communities program supports communities as they focus on one common goal: helping people access new opportunities for literacy and learning.

Literacy Now Communities guides communities through a planning process to identify and address local literacy needs. The program is supported by the Province of British Columbia.