Over the past four years, a Mission man has gone from being able to read just a handful of words to having the confidence to travel and read novels on his own, all thanks to Mission Literacy in Motion (MLIM) .
MLIM is a non-profit organization offering free learning programs for all ages, from toddlers to seniors, with the help of volunteer tutors. A long-time tutor, Val currently works with two students.
One is a recent immigrant to Canada who has now passed her citizenship test and is enrolled in a care assistance program. The other, a Canadian named Austin, fell through the cracks of the education system.
“I never got to learn in school because the way they taught didn’t work for me,” Austin said.
Austin has been learning with Val for four years. They started with the alphabet, moved on to common signs to help with work, then to papers and books for new readers.
He’s progressed so much that he’s been able to visit an aunt in England on his own, and more recently he’s started the Harry Potter series.
“I can get to Vancouver on my own now. I couldn’t before because I couldn’t read the signs,” Austin said. He hopes one day to be able to teach children himself.
One in six adults has low literacy, according to Statistics Canada. According to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, approximately 50% of Canadians are unable to read complex texts that require a combination of literacy, math and problem-solving skills. Most speak English as their first language.
MLIM programs include Mother Goose for babies and adults, preschool and parenting programs, Reading Buddies for early elementary school children with reading difficulties, youth coding programs with computers, and adult literacy for new immigrants and adults with low literacy.
Although COVID has not stopped programming at MLIM, the shift to video sessions has added challenges, and some programs have been difficult to continue.
The nonprofit’s future looks brighter, but some programs are in dire need of more volunteers.
Val does it simply for the feeling of “goodness”.
“I always come out of a session feeling so positive. It’s hugely rewarding and gratifying, even if it can be a bit frustrating at times,” she said, adding that it was worth seeing a breakthrough. with a student.
Val said she noticed adult literacy issues among Canadian adults during her working years, seeing people struggle to fill out forms and read simple signs.
But she said most of the credit at MLIM goes to students.
“I asked Austin why he wanted help,” Val said. “He said because it can only get better.”
Austin himself encourages others to volunteer.
“It can help change a life, make life easier and more enjoyable,” he said.