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Title : Born to Read

District : 5020

Countries : Canada

Topics : literacy, children, book donation

Contact : John Challender, Past Rotary Club President

At the beginning of the 1998-99 Rotary year, the Rotary club of Strathcona Sunrise Courtenay, Canada, decided to spearhead a literacy project in the community to raise the awareness of parents of new-borns of the importance of reading to their children from the beginning of their lives. The community of 60,000 welcomes about 600 new children every year. In partnership with the other two Rotary clubs in the community, Courteney and Comox, the Soroptimists Club, a grocery chain store, a credit union and a community literacy learning center, the Rotarians gathered resources to promote our idea. The service clubs and the credit union kicked in cash and the grocery store through its excellent book department donated 600 books. In addition, the Rotarians donated time to renovate the literacy learning center ( a spin-off that was much needed) and a kit for each new-bornís parents was developed consisting of a cloth shoulder bag into which went donated books, literature explaining to parents how to begin and keep the momentum going, a tee shirt with the project logo (a teddy bear reading a book and the words :Born to Read).

Everything was ready by 1 January 1999 and the media informed the public. A reception and open house was held at the literacy learning center with a cake (c/w logo) and refreshments. Expectant moms and new moms brought their toddlers and a great deal of interest was generated. Just over half-way through the year, the distribution of the bags is on track and moms who gave birth to children last year have learned about the program and have requested the materials. The clubís support for literacy and numeracy has expanded to help another agency that deals with children with poor reading skills through several hours of volunteer work. The project was not a costly one because of the contributions of the other service clubs, the credit union and the book department of the grocery chain store. Rotaryís profile and commitment to literacy and numeracy has been raised and the Rotarians are becoming aware of other ways they can become involved in reducing the number of children and adults who canít read or read well and who re unable to understand how number work.