Simon Schopman and Monica Tutt of the Career Centre at the annual Literacy Fair.

Family Literacy Fair held at Bella Coola Elementary

Family Literacy Fair held at Bella Coola Elementary

Across Canada, thousands of families, literacy groups, schools, libraries and community organizations gathered to celebrate the importance of literacy and learning in honour of Family Literacy Day – Canada’s largest family literacy initiative.

Locally, awareness of the importance of literacy was spread from the Bella Coola Elementary School Gym on February 7 with a wide array of events enjoyed by the whole family.

The theme this year was “Learning is Everywhere” celebrated by a poster contest. The Grand Prize winner was Sadie Gunderson, followed by Finn Carlson, Claudia Nelson and the BCE Grade Two class. Thanks to every ones’ excellent efforts!

A Book Fair in the library generated a lot of traffic, (free book bucks can only be spent in the library)  as did the many tables in the gym that provided free books, or the chance to win books in several draws. The storytelling tent was always busy with young readers eager to listen to stories.

New this year was the Movie Theatre highlighting local works completed with funding support Smartfund VCH Digital Storytelling Project. You’ll know the Cake Walk – at BCE it was the Book Walk ; musical chairs with a book as the prize. The “Youth for Leaders” painted faces and helped throughout the evening.

There were a multitude of tables from like-minded community organizations such as Healthy Beginnings, Active Communities , Dental Hygiene, the BCE Speech and Language Program, Carrots for Kids activity table and, of course, the New Leaf Learning Centre.

For many, the best part of the evening was listening to first time performers Ariel Mackenzie,age 7, and Kelly Koroluk, age 8, who showed off their fiddling talents. And, Bella Coola experienced its first flash mob! The Chicken Dance appeared from nowhere and suddenly everyone was dancing

The aim of the Fair was to raise awareness about the importance of literacy, and to offer practical solutions to increase literacy at home, within the family.

“So many people in the Valley are concerned about Literacy,” said Bella Coola Valley Learning Society (BCVLS) Executive Director Lori Campbell. “You can see the interest both from the number of volunteers helping to organize the event today, and by the attendants of the Fair. Many social issues are related to literacy: health, income, economics, education – promoting literacy is key to achieving health and wellness for everyone.”

Many partnerships were in motion at the Literacy Fair, as many volunteers and school staff worked to make the event a success. Thank you to our sponsors who helped make this happen. WLDCU, Central Coast Teachers Association, Kopas Store, BCV Literacy Task Group and the BCV Learning Society.

In honour of Family Literacy Day, ABC Life Literacy Canada offers five suggestions on how you can embrace daily learning opportunities.

Attend a local Family Literacy Day event in your community. Visit www.FamilyLiteracyDay.ca for event listings. When making your grocery list, have your child write out the items you need to buy.

When cooking dinner, involve your children in measuring the ingredients. This helps them understand fractions and measurements. In the car, sing along to songs on the radio. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms, and is strongly connected to language skills. When playing a board game, read the instructions aloud to each other or count how many spaces to travel around the board.

For more information, literacy resources or event listings, visit www.FamilyLiteracyDay.ca. Locally visit the New Leaf Learning Centre or call 250 799-5822 for more information.