Learning to love literacy

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald From left to right, Indigenous social work practicum student Ashley Peterson, family literacy coordinator Sandra Kaun and volunteer Brie Kalenith pose for a photo on Tuesday. All three say there’s a tremendous need for organizations to help parents develop literacy skills in their children, and they hope this Saturday’s Family Literacy Day will help.

When Ashley Peterson began working for the Prince Albert Literacy Network (PALN) she was in for a bit of a shock.

Peterson, who joined the organization as an Indigenous social work practicum student, always knew reading was important, but she never knew just how important.

“What caught me off guard … is that here (at the PALN) they see literacy as an issue of health, which I think is something that the majority of our community doesn’t realize,” she said. “There are just so many avenues that literacy definitely plays a major role in.”

Peterson said low literacy levels have a particular harsh impact on Prince Albert’s aboriginal population. According to the Literary and Essential Skills in Saskatchewan Environmental Handbook, aboriginal people are four times more likely to experience poverty, and are consistently overrepresented in the low-income category.

Peterson said low literacy levels are a major reason for the problem, and raising them will lead to a way out.

“Poverty and low literacy levels are connected,” she said. “The Prince Albert Literacy Network aims to help close that education gap caused by the many different issues, whether it be systemic, historical, geographic, cultural or whatever individual or personal barriers.”

Part of closing that gap comes through programing, and the PALN’s inaugural Family Literacy Day, planned for Jan 21. The event was created to help parents understand how to build strong literacy skills in their children.

For the rest of this story, please see the Jan. 18 online or print editions of the Daily Herald.