Laubach Literacy helps those struggling with reading skills

Sueann Musick
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NEW GLASGOW – April’s desire to learn to read was fuelled by her need for speed.

Well, not exactly speed, but definitely a desire to obtain her driver’s licence.

The New Glasgow resident, who is not named to protect her identity, struggled with learning to read as a child and completely dropped out of high school in Grade 10.

“I have dyslexia,” she said. “I found it really hard to remember some things and sometimes I will write the words backwards. They tested me in Grade two for this and the teachers helped from then on by reading to me, but this wasn’t teaching me anything.”

She dropped out of school in Grade 10 after finishing a co-operative education program and integrated back into regular school programming.

“School was very, very frustrating,” she said.

When she left school, April worked at Tim Hortons for a bit before waitressing full time at a local restaurant. She said she memorized menus so that she could answer customers questions and asked co-workers for help when she had to spell certain words.

“I wasn’t ashamed I couldn’t read because I tried,” she said. “I would say,  ‘I may need help or there are a few words I may need help with,’” she said.

April tried to improve her reading skills while she was working, but after her children were born, she had to focus on them rather than reading.

“I wanted to start to read again because you need to read,” she said. “I had children coming into this world and you need to read.”

This past year, April contacted a friend who suggested she try the services of Laubach Literacy Pictou County.

Laubach Literacy started in 1970 in Nova Scotia and opened a branch in Pictou County the same year. It offers free, one-to-one, confidential service that currently has 195 students in its program. In the past year, 17,480 volunteer hours were given to county literacy issues.

Students taking part in the program range from those starting the alphabet to others seeking assistance with their GEDs. In the past year, many students have moved on to higher education, found jobs and all expressed how good they feel because of their raised self esteem, said Mary Coady, co-ordinator for the Laubach Literacy Pictou County.

The free training and resources for Laubach are made available through funding provided by the United Way of Pictou County.

April is currently meeting with her tutor, Grace, once a week for an hour where they go over many different words and reading material.

“We are basically doing words,” she said. “If you can’t break down a word, then you can’t read.”

Grace said the two had started out with books provided by Laubach, but soon realized that April was a bit more advanced than she was giving herself credit for so they started focusing on the driver’s handbook.

“We studied for almost two months,” said April. “I was so nervous and I cried when I got in there, but I passed it with only one mistake on both sides.”

Grace said April’s frustration levels have decreased since they’ve started meeting and she is becoming more and more comfortable with breaking down words in order to learn them.

“Each word we didn’t know, we would write down on memory cards,” she said. “Now she can breeze through most of them without any trouble.”

Now that April has her learner’s permit she is setting new goals for herself.

“I’m going to get my licence and after that I want to go back to school,” she said, adding she would like a career in either education or nursing.”

But most important, April says she plans on continuing her sessions with Grace and Laubach Literacy Pictou County.

“I do really enjoy reading,” she said. “I go to the library now when the kids go and pick up books for myself.”

Anyone in Pictou County in need of literacy skills, can call 755-0342 or 755-3155 for assistance. Laubach Literacy can also be reached at pclaubach@hotmail.com

Laubach Literacy will also be holding a tutor-training workshop Feb. 16 and more information is available from the same contact information.

Organizations: Tim Hortons, United Way

Geographic location: Pictou County, NEW GLASGOW, Nova Scotia

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