Online Literacy Series Draws People from Across Canada, Impacts Locally

An online literacy series hosted by one of BC CRN’s community response networks (CRN) has attracted attention from Canadians across the country.

The Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP) and co-host of the Chetwynd CRN held its inaugural Virtual Literacy Week from January 11-15, 2021. Lectures and workshops on topics such as financial literacy, media literacy, cultural literacy, and cover letter and resume writing were streamed live through Facebook to online participants from Alberta, Prince George, Vancouver, Williams, Lake, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

The Idea Came…While Exercising

CALP and CRN coordinator Meagan Reid-Wolfe
Chetwynd CRN Co-Coordinator Meagan Reid-Wolfe (Photo: M. Wolfe)

CALP and CRN coordinator Meagan Reid-Wolfe is the brainchild behind Chetwynd’s first Virtual Literacy Week. “I’m always looking for ways to help people, young and old, become more literate. I want people to become critical thinkers, which I think is important in this day and age when technology is so ingrained into our society. While technology is an amazing education and teaching tool, misinformation and lies are also commonplace, and this has caused problems.” she says.

“Ideas come to me during my quiet time, usually when I’m exercising or meditating,” Meagan continues. “How do I get the word out on literacy education during a global pandemic? How can we educate seniors and youth on some of the main literacy issues of today? Virtual literacy week came from this thought process…and while I was on the elliptical machine. It all came together with a ‘whoosh’!”

Working with Experts in the Community…and Having Fun While Doing It!

Meagan and CRN co-coordinator Melyssa Reyland worked with experts in the Chetwynd community to develop the programming for Virtual Literacy Week. “There are so many knowledgeable people in the community who were excited to share their expertise with others,” she says. “It was fun!”

The program for the 2021 Virtual Literacy Week included financial literacy for youth and seniors, cultural literacy, a workshop on writing cover letters and resumes, and media literacy.

“In designing these sessions, we aimed to make each one educational, informative, and entertaining,” adds Meagan. “We wanted to attract as many people as possible to participate!”

Marketing the program was primarily done through Facebook ads. “I don’t think we would have got the traffic we did if we had not advertised,” says Meagan.

Meagan also met with local council to garner support for the program, which resulted in Mayor of Chetwynd Allen Courtoreille signing a proclamation in recognition of the week.

Virtual Literacy Week 2021 Proclamation (Photo: Chetwynd Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

Impact in the Community

“Based on our metrics to date, the financial literacy and media literacy were number one and two most popular with users,” Meagan says.

“The Chetwynd Scotiabank branch did a wonderful presentation in explaining banking and frauds,” adds Melyssa. “It was well organized and presented in simple words that anyone could understand.”

The financial literacy programming went so well, the CRN is working with Scotiabank to bring a follow-up session in February.

“Anecdotally, the Essential Skills workshop created a lot of buzz in the community,” continues Meagan. “Community members have stopped me in the street telling me that they feel they now have the skills and tools to apply for meaningful work…especially now during a pandemic when many people are looking for employment.”

Videos of the sessions are openly available on the CALP Facebook page for anyone interested:

Based on the success of this year’s events, the Chetwynd CRN is looking forward to holding Virtual Literacy Week annually.

For more information or to get involved with the Chetwynd CRN, please contact CRN Co-Coordinators Meagan Reid-Wolfe or Melyssa Reyland, or Regional Mentor – North Eastern BC Laura Beamish.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn: @debbiechowabc.

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