Trail Times Wednesday editions will support local literacy program

On Wednesday the Trail Times will be offered free by donation as part of the Reach-A-Reader program and CBAL.

Who ever said you can’t get something for free.

On Wednesday the Trail Times will be offered free by donation as part of the Reach-A-Reader program and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL).

It’s a day to celebrate literacy and to raise money to support a worthwhile cause: pick up a free newspaper on local newsstands, make a donation, and watch your money grow literacy levels in the region.

Last year the event raised $840 in a matter of hours in Greater Trail. But the entire Reach-a-Reader campaign, which included advertisements and articles in publications throughout the region, helped raise awareness of the program throughout the Kootenay region, said Chuck Bennett, group publisher for Black Press Kootenays.

“We are not taking one penny of the money raised, and everything will go to CBAL,” he said. “We are thrilled to be able to be a partner in this initiative.”

CBAL has 16 coordinators delivering services in 77 communities, said Desneiges Profili, CBAL regional program manager for the West Kootenay and Boundary, on the organization’s website.

“Their work with children, adults, families and seniors to build reading, writing, numeracy, computer and workplace skills is in demand,” said Profili. “Fundraisers, such as our Reach-A-Reader campaign, help support communities to meet this increasing need.”

And not only is it worthwhile, literacy is a necessary pursuit, said Ali Wassing, CBAL executive director, in a press release. Literacy is the link to the information of our age, it forms the skills are constantly employed as people check email, shop for groceries, pay bills, read the news and many other daily tasks.

Not only must people be literate to be able to interpret the written word, they need the skills to evaluate the information.

“Literacy skills impact our lives and communities in ways that might surprise you,” Wassing said. “Studies show a strong correlation between high literacy levels, good health and low unemployment. Ultimately, a community is more resilient when its citizens have strong literacy skills.”

As a non-profit organization designed to encourage and promote literacy, CBAL offers free workshops in Greater Trail and across the West Kootenay with courses ranging from Books for Babies to Adult Basic Computer Classes.

In addition to regional funding received from Columbia Basin Trust, Selkirk College, College of the Rockies and the Province of British Columbia, local partnerships and fund raising campaigns develop more community-led programs targeting local needs, like in Greater Trail.

Barb Blatchford, publisher of the Trail Times, said Black Press’s involvement was a natural match.

“It was a perfect fit for us,” she said. “And it’s been a learning experience for me finding out about all the programs CBAL offers.”

All funds raised during the campaign will help support the program.

Since its inception CBAL has had provincial support to develop community literacy planning committees. They discuss, plan and take action on literacy development for all ages and all needs, said Wassing.

Community members representing public health, school districts, colleges, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, Early Childhood Development teams, libraries, community services, employment agencies and many others come together as Community Literacy Planning Committees to discuss local needs.

Books for Babies, Luv to Learn, Parents as Literacy Supporters, Parents Reading, Children Succeeding, One-to-One Reading, Young Parents Education Program, Seniors Computers and English Conversation groups are just a few of the programs introduced through the community planning process.

People can support the Reach a Reader campaign this Wednesday with a donation in return for a free copy of the Trail Times (on newsstands throughout the Greater Trail region).

Over the last 10 years, CBAL has delivered an average of 230 programs to 7,000 participants each year.

If you are interested in being a part of your community literacy planning process, visit www.cbal.org and contact your community literacy coordinator.

For more information on CBAL please visit: www.cbal.org.

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