Literacy lunch aims to raise bar
About 40 people gathered at the Literacy: Why Bother? luncheon hosted by the Literacy Merritt Nicola Valley Society on Thursday to discuss the ever-broadening definition of literacy.
“There’s a real traditional definition of literacy, which is reading and writing,” LMNVS President and Nicola-Similkameen School District 58 Assistant Superintendent Steve McNiven said. “Then there’s a much wider, more contemporary view of literacy, which takes into all kinds of different things: technology, health, and finance. So many components in our lives relate to literacy that the definition has really expanded.”
The luncheon featured a presentation by Maureen Kehler of Decoda Literacy Solutions, a Vancouver-based organization that co-ordinates task groups for improving community literacy throughout the province.
“It’s about being able to function in our world, being able to go to a job and be safe, being able to figure out that IT stuff,” Kehler said. “It’s about lifelong learning, really. In our communities, we have what we need to make it work.”
Kehler said providing resources for the lowest-literacy members of a community is the best strategy to strengthening and improving its economic function.
“When adults want to learn something, they say, ‘I need food for my family; I need to be able to read the notes that are coming home from school; I need to help my child with homework; I need to get a job,’” she said. “We need to provide a variety of entry points for people.”
Representatives from School District 58, the City of Merritt, Kengard Learning Centre, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and the library, among others, took part in the tabletop discussion portion of the luncheon to share ideas on raising the bar of literacy in Merritt. Suggestions from the tables included increasing communication between educational institutions and expanding LMNVS programming. LMNVS Outreach Co-ordinator Robyn Grebliunas said the society is already planning to expand its Bright Red Bookshelf campaign into the seven First Nations in the Nicola Valley.
They currently have 16 bookshelves throughout Merritt that people can take and leave books at for free.
“Why stop? The community keeps pouring the donations in, and it’s working,” Grebliunas said. “Let’s focus there.”
Grebliunas said the bookshelves will be added to other communities by the spring.