Are you computer literate? How’s your medical literacy? Numeracy? What about your literacy literacy?
Literacy is often thought of the ability to read or write, as in its common dictionary definition, but there is another way to read literacy as competency or knowledge in a specific area. That encompasses reading and writing nicely as well.
In our specific area, namely Nakusp and outlying region, literacy is supported by a number of programs, many of which are run through CBAL, the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy. From Strong Start to computer skills for seniors, CBAL is taking on increasing the competency and knowledge of all learners.
Kids preparing to go to school can start learning the basics about math, science, art and reading as well as socializing with Strong Start, a loosely structured drop-in learning centre that kids and their caretakers can visit.
“It’s learning through play,” said Community Literacy Coordinator Rhonda Palmer, who has seen six new families visit the centre in the last few weeks, which she finds exciting.
For reading and book-type literacy, CBAL has several programs open to people in the area. The Early Literacy Program in New Denver helps instil the love of stories and reading with young kids, while Reading to Seniors is a program (looking for volunteers if you like reading and are looking for an audience) about to expand to Minto House here in Nakusp. Then there’s One-to-One Reading taking place in elementary schools from Edgewood to New Denver. English as a second language, and adult literacy are both supported by the organization, too.
But CBAL’s idea of literacy is broad, and the organization brings the wide world of the world wide web to folks who may not know how to use a computer to stay in touch with family and friends but would like to.
“There are a lot of seniors and adults who want to communicate with grandkids but don’t know how,” commented Palmer, who sees increasing computer literacy as also increasing intergenerational communication.
There has been much made of increasing computational literacy, not just computer literacy with kids, so that they are not only able to use computers but also to understand what makes them work. Although the Nakusp literacy group hasn’t planned anything yet, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t look into it, said Palmer.
“The CAP – Community Access Program – site has been a real hub for literacy,” Palmer said. Here in Nakusp, she said it has been like a CBAL storefront, running ESL programs, senior and adult computer literacy classes, and Books Everywhere (free books and magazines for kids and adults).
CAP funding was cut by the federal government suddenly in March of last year, but Palmer said she and Adult Literacy co-ordinator Liz Gillis are trying hard to find a way to keep the mostly volunteer-run centre going because it is home to community literacy in Nakusp.
Literacy can extend to finding some help filling out byzantine government forms, or finding out how to read a prescription or learn how to socialize. Even emotional literacy is tackled. The Roots of Empathy program brings kindergarten and grade seven kids in contact with babies and teaches them about growing up while exploring their feelings.
As any newcomer to the area knows, a crash course in historical literacy would be fantastic, outlining the waves of migration to the region and times of boom and bust.
CBAL also partners with various community groups to put on events. CAPC and CBAL will be offering Family Night Out which offers dinner, play and story time – a chance to get socially literate – beginning October 30.