February was Literacy Month and by all accounts it was a good month in Smithers.
To highlight the importance of literacy, Elke Heinemann-Pesch, the community facilitator with the Literacy Outreach Program in Smithers noted 75 per cent of those employed in higher [level] jobs receive professional development compared to 20 per cent in lower jobs.
One event, hosted by the Smithers Public Library and Friends of the Library, in conjunction with the Town of Smithers and Smithers Steelheads, saw about 200 people make their way to the arena to take part in Skate for Books.
The Steelheads provided personal skating lessons skating lessons and everyone received a free book courtesy of the Smithers Library and Friends of the Library, Heinemann-Pesch said.
The Praise a Reader campaign wasn’t just a literacy awareness program it was also a fundraiser, Heinemann-Pesch said.
“Community based literacy programs have seen a significant decrease in funding over the last few years and the organizations and foundations where you can apply for funding is also becoming less,” she said.
As part of the campaign, The Interior News donated $10 for each new subscription and $5 for each renewed subscription towards literacy programs in the community. In all The Interior News raised $637.50 through subscriptions.
In addition, issues of the Interior News were sold by donation at various locations throughout Smithers which raised an additional $1,315.
“Thank you is not enough to convey my appreciation,” Heinemann-Pesch said.
In addition to literacy programs for children, Heinemann-Pesch noted there are also literacy programs for adults. Anyone wanting to improve their literacy skills can call Smithers Community Services at 250-847-9515 and talk to Heinemann-Pesch or Joanne Nugent for information. The Northwest Community College also provides programs people can enroll in.