After a solid start last year, Literacy Now is bringing their Adult Spelling Bee back to the South Okanagan this April.
“When you’re starting something new you wonder what the response will be and it was very good,” said Literacy Now co-ordinator Naomi Ludington. “We had about eight teams with eight people and we raised over $2,000.”
Over the past year, Ludington said she has heard questions from many in the community about whether there was going to be another spelling bee.
“So we’re going for it again and hope that it is even bigger this year,” she said. “It works with teams of up to eight working together to spell words, so no one is put on the spot, which frightens adults, it appears.”
The event has two goals, according to Ludington. First is to raise awareness of literacy issues, but it also raises money to help support the work of Literacy Now.
“It’s a great awareness event but we also look at it as a bit of a fundraiser to raise funds to put back into the community for literacy programs and projects,” said Ludington.
And, she stresses, it’s fun.
“People really responded well last year, making it a fun event by naming their team and having costumes on — the winning team last year were the Whizbangs, they came with scrabble letters on their clothing,” said Ludington. “There was a lot of fun with the costumes and making it a fun festive event so we’re hoping that people respond this year again.”
The spelling bee will be held at the Penticton Golf and Country Club once again, from 7 to 9 a.m. on May 3 and includes a hot breakfast. Teams have until April 16 to register by filling out the form available online at www.literacynowso-s.ca.
“If people don’t have a team, they can sign up as an individual and I’ll put them on a team, because there will be space somewhere for an individual that wants to participate,” said Ludington, adding that they are hoping to attract participation of the business sector.
“We’d love to see business come out and raise awareness of the literacy issues in workplaces,” she said. “That’s a goal of the spelling bee as well.”
The spelling bee is just one of the programs Literacy Now is working on. They’re also involved with a group trying to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to the area.
“We’re just in the really early stages of it,” said Ludington, describing the program, which provides a book every month to children from birth to age five. This isn’t a Literacy Now initiative, but a partnership with both the United Way and the Penticton Rotary Club to bring the program to Penticton and eventually to the whole South Okanagan-Similkameen.
“What we’re looking for is to get business donors and commitment from other organizations in the community to fund it,” she said. “It is a fairly costly program to maintain, so we’re just in the stage of looking to see if we can get it off the ground. We would need some commitment from the community to finance it.”
One program that is getting underway is Connecting Generations, offering literacy services to grandparents who are raising or have the care of their grandchildren.
“We know that type of family is growing in our area. We wanted to be able to offer them a service they may not be receiving,” said Ludington, explaining that grandparents might be hesitant about accessing some of the other early learning programs available.
The program will start up in April at two locations with Literacy Now community partners: the Penticton Indian Band’s Outma Cultural School and the Penticton Museum and Archives.
“The museum approached us and asked if we were interested in having the program at the museum,” said Ludington. “They really wanted to connect with the community and this seemed to be a good way to do it.”
The museum will provide historical information sessions for the grandparents and has other activities planned for the grandchildren.
“Part of the program is grandparents and grandchildren together, then there is childcare and activities for the children, so there is a little bit of respite, where the grandparents have some time alone to interact together,” said Ludington.
These programs are just a small part of the activities Literacy Now is involved in, Ludington explains, noting that they offer financial and other supports to organizations operating literacy-oriented programs.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We’re here to help and we’re not going away.”