It is our favourite time of year. Twinkling lights and tinselled trees remind us that this is the Giving Season once again. We know that this has been a hard year for everyone. Our grandparents or great-grandparents may recall the polio or typhus epidemics, but for most of us this has been a new and scary 'once in a lifetime' experience.
We've had to make tough choices and ask ourselves difficult questions this year. Do we visit family? Do we keep our kids in school? Do I stay at home to teach my children? Do I keep my job? What happens if I get sick? Or a family member gets sicks? What if I lose my job?
And some tough choices have been made for us. It has been a year like no other.
But as those first flakes of snow begin to fall, I am reminded of the generosity of New Brunswickers. We are the people who shovel off a neighbour's sidewalk after a big snow. We are the ones who bring the widower next door Christmas cookies. We hold doors for the mom whose arms are full of groceries. We are the ones who give to improve the quality of life for a stranger.
In New Brunswick, nearly half of all adults struggle with some reading difficulties. There is no one experience of what that looks like and most people have figured out ways to "work around it". We are good at finding ways to make things work, after all isn't there a million and one ways to use duct tape? But low literacy isn't going to be helped by duct tape. It's when something awful happens that the person with low literacy needs help most. That could be the loss of a job, or a spouse, or retirement, or this year... Covid-19.
Think how hard it has been to navigate all of these "New Normal" rules that change frequently as we learn more about the virus. How many new words and phrases we've had to learn. How much new information has had to be interpreted. And think about doing that if you struggled to read.
Laubach Literacy New Brunswick has been here to help people improve their literacy for nearly forty years. We have seen people through the best and the worst of times and we continue to find ways to adapt and reach learners. This year we have begun reaching learners online and through new hybrid teaching models that use one-to-one teaching along with new technologies.
We are not duct-tape, and improving literacy isn't a quick fix, but we can do it together... with your support.