It’s ten years of boosting child literacy in Prince Edward County thanks to a highly dedicated volunteer group.
This past weekend at St. Mary Magdalene Church Parish Hall in Picton which houses the organization’s library, County Kids Read (CKR) celebrated their 10th anniversary of putting “a book in every child’s hand,” as well as unveiling a new logo and brochure.
The mission of CKR is to address the link between poverty and literacy by providing free books to children and youth in Prince Edward County.
In 2009 members of the Prince Edward County Arts Council sat down to discuss the low literacy scores of children in the County. Under the umbrella of the Arts Council, they resolved to take steps to ensure every child in the community not only had access to books, but ownership of them as well.
“Four or five years ago the church, who has always been our home here at the parish hall and have been so welcoming and amazing, put this book room together with everything being donated,” explained Anne Preston, CKR organizer. “Books and Company donated book shelves and everything came together. We also ordered a lot of books because we’re very fussy, we’re not going to give children tatty old mouldy books so these books are new and current.”
CKR is proud to work with 18 wonderful community programs which serve the needs of low income families and at-risk children and youth. Their mandate is to provide free books which match the needs and interests of the children and programs of their community partners – the right book for every child.
“I had a great time today and it was a bonus with the unveiling of their neat new logo and brochure,” said Councillor Bill Roberts. “This is such an amazing organization with distributing over 500 books per month to our community children and to their families. CKR is very fortunate to have the support of Saint Mary Magdalene Church and all the community partners. The work done by the dedicated volunteers is very impressive and very laudable, and many of the benefiting families are using PEC food banks as well and CKR makes free books available in those venues too.”
Community partners include Alternatives for Women, Children’s Aid Society, Community Living Prince Edward, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, The Hub Child & Family Centre, Picton Food Bank, Prince Edward Collegiate Institute, Prince Edward County Child Care Services, Prince Edward County Family Health Team, Prince Edward County Learning Centre, Prince Edward County Public Library and Archives, Reaching for Rainbows, Recreational Outreach Centre (ROC), Sophiasburgh Public School, St. Mary Magdalene Church, The Salvation Army Food Bank, Thrive (Change Health Care Inc.) and Wellington Storehouse Food Bank.
“This gutsy group of volunteers led by Anne Preston and Peta Shelton has done a great job over the years and deserves lots of credit and support,” Stated Steve Ferguson, Mayor of Prince Edward County. “CKR’s simple mission is ‘A Book In Every Child’s Hand,’ and as a lifelong advocate for reading books and their importance to youth I was most grateful to be asked to attend today.”
Saint Mary Magdalene Anglican Church has generously been home to CKR by providing a large room for the storage and distribution of the books. Every month books are sorted, stamped and distributed to partner organizations by a team of volunteers. This contact with the partners ensures they are providing books that match the interest and needs of the children and families who attend their programs. In addition, staff and children from some of their community partners are able to visit the book room and choose their own books. The program has distributed over 500 books per month (as of summer 2019).
“The families have expressed to me that the children look forward to getting a new or gently used book each month and this it has not only improved the children’s writing skills, but also the parents’,” as said on the CKR website, Linda Downey, President of The Storehouse Food Bank. “These families that are using the food bank can’t afford food, so obviously can’t afford to purchase books for their children.”
CKR is effective without creating a new organizational structures and their delivery method is both effective, innovative and unique.
For more information please visit CKR’s website at https://www.countykidsread.ca