Today is International Literacy Day, a day for communities to celebrate the joys of reading, while raising awareness for those without access to education. But while literacy is a global concern, it’s also an issue that hits close to home— right here in Toronto and York Region.
Consider these troubling statistics from the Canadian Paediatric Society:
- 50% of adults with low literacy levels live below the poverty line
- People with low literacy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed
- Low literacy is a severe and pervasive problem with serious health, social and economic consequences
No one understands this issue better than Camesha Cox, a long-time resident of Toronto’s priority neighbourhood of Kingston Galloway Orton Park (KGO). Over the past five years, approximately 49% of KGO Grade Three children have not met provincial reading standards—a startling statistic since studies show those who experience reading difficulties at this level seldom catch up to their peers.
So, in 2011, Camesha decided to do something about it. She started The Reading Partnership, a small resident-led project supported by United Way, that brings together children and their parents to strengthen reading skills and empower families with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure their children are on a promising educational path.
Watch the video below to learn about another unique school-readiness program offered by United Way-supported Working Women Community Centre that helps newcomer children—and their families—prepare for the Canadian school system.