Courageous and Outrageous - Literacy

By Pat Nichol

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How important is it to be able to read well? Millions of Canadians do not have the basic literacy skills to move ahead in their lives and careers. Reading and comprehension has always been important in my life and the lives of my children. This month, my column is about people who help others read.

Recently, at The 50+ Active Living Celebration in March, when I emceed the entertainment, I put the call out for stories. It delighted me that several people took me up on my request.

Bill Boagey from Nanaimo claims he is not very courageous and outrageous. As a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent, Bill loves kids. He joined Literacy Nanaimo and, after working with adults, was asked if he would like to work with elementary school children. The first year, he worked with one class, then two classes, then a year later, it was four classes, five classes and, this year, he has seven classes. The classes range from Grade 1 to Grade 4.

Bill says it is great fun and a real thrill when you see a child who is really struggling, finally get it. The main thing required is patience.

If that isn't enough, five afternoons a week, Bill teaches English to a number of Korean women. Bill, that sounds like someone who has a great deal of courage.

Neil and Gerlinde Kennedy-Jones are retirees who refuse to slow down. When asked who they write for, the response was "our grandchildren, first of all. Then we wondered if other grandchildren might enjoy our stories," they say. "So, they joined our list. As we're new Canadians, and have lived in other countries where English wasn't spoken, we thought we'd like to make these 'easy-to-read' stories available to other immigrants who are learning English."

"Then, there are seniors, like ourselves, who may like to read a story or two by the fireside at night or read to their grandchildren. They also joined our list. We hope our stories can be of help to children and adults in hospital." 

In addition to stories, the couple also uses their writing ability to help people who are searching for jobs.

Neil and Gerlinde have created a blog where they share their stories and invite anyone to visit and enjoy. The blog is

Keep on reading and sharing your stories; it makes our world brighter.


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