Kitchener 519-743-6090 Cambridge 519-621-7993

Sue Damon, Guest Columnist

Memos and work notices, ads on Kijiji, shopping flyers, medical brochures, employee handbooks, emails from friends and family and postings on Facebook…

What would your life be like if you could not read these things? Sadly, one in four people over the age of 16 in our region experiences this firsthand. They lack the reading, writing, document use and math skills required to navigate everyday tasks and materials. (For more information and statistics on literacy in our area go to the Project READ Literacy Network website at

These low literacy levels, shocking in a region known for its high-tech industries and post-secondary institutions, have serious societal implications. Low literacy is strongly linked to unemployment, mental health issues, poverty, substance abuse, incarceration and many other social ills. As you might expect, low literacy and the accompanying problems tend to be perpetuated in families from generation to generation. But there is hope and help. The destructive cycles can be broken! The Literacy Group of Waterloo Region is one agency working to raise literacy levels in our area. At present, The Literacy Group is helping over 150 people in Cambridge, Kitchener and the rural townships upgrade their reading, writing, document use, math and other essential skills. Even modest improvements in skills can have powerful transformative effects in people’s lives. Here’s what a couple of learners have said about the changes they’ve experienced through The Literacy Group:

For Gordon LaPlante, “Schooling became more of a priority in my life when my daughter began asking me to read her a bedtime story. I could not do it, and I did not want to fail again.”

Now Gordon not only can read to his daughter, he is better equipped to help set her on a course of life-long learning.

Denise Mandarino, a mother of three boys, has been a learner with the Literacy Group for just over a year and a half.

“I started with no confidence. I thought I was illiterate. I didn’t even think I would get hired in a cashier store.” About her hopes for the future, she now says, “It’s no longer ‘hope’. It’s ‘I know.’ My lifelong dream is going to college and becoming a productive citizen to society. Giving back!”

Do you want to help the cause of literacy and have fun at the same time? On Saturday, July 7, The Lead Kings, a local car club, will present their second annual Rodding for Reading Car and Motorcycle show. All proceeds will go to The Literacy Group. This event promises fun for the entire family, with stunning vehicles, custom built awards, food booths, kids’ crafts, vendors, door prizes and raffles. A special attraction this year will be the multi-talented Scott Hammell, who is an escape artist, hypnotist, juggler, magician, stunt man, inspirational speaker and Guinness World Record holder. You won’t want to miss any of it!

The time is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The location is the Portuguese Club of Cambridge at 870 Townline Rd. For more information, phone 519-621-7993 or Hope to see you there!

Retrieved from The Cambridge Times