My name is Alison and I am from Edmonton. I am going to share with you when I was younger and how improving my literacy has helped me.
When I was a baby, I was sick as part of my brain had not grown. It was hard for me to learn to speak, read and write. Although the doctors said that I should be put in a group home, I stayed with my mom and dad. I attended a special school. I was very shy.
I finished school in Year 6 from a special school, L. Y. Cairns. I was starting to learn to read when I left school. I took a course in Childcare which helped me to be less shy. For the past 24, years, I have worked as a childcare worker in a daycare centre. And, by the way, I just got a raise.
When I started to work, I realized that I needed to learn more so that I could give receipts to parents, write notes on children and read instructions. To learn more, I would have to be able to read and write better. I have a friend, called Tina, who told me about P.A.L.S. – Project Adult Literacy Society, which is an adult literacy program in Edmonton. Tina told me that she attended P.A.L.S. and improved her reading and writing. Seeing how Tina was improving made me want to improve my skills too.
I phoned P.A.L.S. and they told me that I would have to take a test so they would know where to start me. After the test they started me in the first workbook. I got everything right. The second and third workbooks were also quite easy for me and I got everything right in them as well. Each workbook has been more and more of a challenge and I am now just about finished the 5th workbook.
I have been working with a tutor at P.A.L.S. for the past four years and really improved my reading and writing skills. Before I started with my tutor, I was able to read some words but did not know what they meant. Now, with my tutor’s help, I am able to understand what those words mean. This has been a major step forward in my progress. I can now read stories and understand what I am reading. I have read “The Elephant Man” and “Anne of Green Gables” this year.
When the Math Literacy Program was offered at P.A.L.S., I wanted to improve my math skills, as I had no chance at school to work on my math. So now I have two tutors – one for reading and writing and one for math. I am currently working in times tables and long multiplying in math.
I was chosen by P.A.L.S. as their person to attend BLAST with Literacy Alberta. BLAST is public speaking training for students from across Alberta. The BLAST teams’ stories and mine are in the book, “the way in – Word on the Prairie.”
I joined the Steering Committee of the Students for Students Program at P.A.L.S. What I like about the Steering Committee is sharing ideas with other students, working as a team on projects, and developing and leading workshops for other students. I have helped to lead the workshops: Heart of Stone, Rainbow Mobile and Memory Box. We have given the workshops at P.A.L.S., Literacy Conferences and other literacy programs. It has given me a chance to be a leader, learn how to speak out and be a team player.
I received the Student Achievement Award at the P.A.L.S. this year. I got a plaque from the Mayor of Edmonton, Steven Mandel. It was great. My literacy tutor, Rita, and my math tutor, Ron, were very proud of me.
My parents, Doug and Jean Robb, who have always supported me, came to the award night and are proud that I am doing so well. They love me a lot.
What has changed for me as I have improved my reading, writing and math skills? Now that I can read, I can go on the bus. I used to be afraid as I did not know which way to go and hated to get lost. I can read recipes and make new foods. At the daycare, I can read stories to the children, keep notes and give parents receipts. I have more self-confidence. I am more independent and can do things by myself and I don’t need someone with me all the time.
I still need to improve my skills for my job because of the levels set by the government. I hope to increase my level as a childcare worker or get another job. Improving my reading, writing and math will help me achieve this.