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Guest Column – Cambridge Times

Bill Ashwell

 Bill A

Literacy affects us all, but we take it for granted. It encompasses every aspect of our lives. The ability to read and understand the information you encounter each day is as vital to our everyday living as…well, as breathing.

In 1992, I joined the Cambridge Literacy Council as a tutor trainee. I had learned at an early age to appreciate the value and joy of volunteerism and saw adult literacy tutoring as a perfect way to share my knowledge and skills with some charitable organization. In doing so, I have also developed new skills and a new understanding of the issue of literacy.

The statistics can be disturbing. One in four adults in Waterloo-Wellington lack the skills to deal with everyday printed materials such as medicine labels, printed instructions, notes from doctors or other professionals.  One in four would have difficulty reading this newspaper.

Working to improve literacy skill is one thing, but raising awareness of the issue is quite another and The Lead Kings Car Club is working to help with that.

Rodding for Reading (R4R), a partnership between the club and the Literacy Group, is an accessible, family-friendly classic car and bike show that attracts nearly 200 vehicles from across southwestern Ontario. This year’s event, the 5th annual, is hosted by Southworks Outlet Mall in Cambridge and is a great chance to admire all sorts of vehicles:  low riders, hot rods, customs, classics, muscles, tuners, choppers, cruisers, bobbers, hogs, and sport bikes.

R4R is considered one of the best local shows of the summer, and this year it’s taking place on Saturday, June 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This is the fifth year for the show.  To date it has raised nearly $25,000 for TLG programs and hopes are to add another $10,000 to that total this year.  Admission is free (donation to register a vehicle) so come out and enjoy the vehicles, great food and activities for kids as well as a used book sale, auction, raffle and specials offered by the merchants of Southworks.

The Literacy Group of Waterloo Region emerged in 1995 out of a merger with Core Literacy, the Cambridge Literacy Council and the Literacy Council of Kitchener-Waterloo. Since then the organization has delivered over 117,000 hours of one-on-one and small group training. In addition, more than 450 tutors have committed at least one year of their time to work with our learners, and over 350 learners a year have improved their literacy, numeracy and other Essential Skills through TLG’s programs.

Reading and writing. Reading and rodding. It is, as they say, a good thing.