The Pilot Project
We’ve been wanting to do this post on our Pilot Project for quite some time… what a journey it’s been and so many amazing things have happened along the way. Here’s a little look at what we’ve been up to over the last year and how we ended up planting a Story Garden.
Baby Bookworms & Beyond’s mission is: to triumph over illiteracy by sharing the gift of reading with one child, one family, one community at a time. In 2012, we began establishing a prototype for transformation through our literacy programs in the Sheridan Community of Mississauga, ON. This neigbourhood was our first choice because the public school is Number 1 on the Risk Index Chart, with most of their students recent immigrants and English as their second or third language. Could Baby Bookworms & Beyond make a difference?
We developed connections with area schools, organizations, agencies, faith groups, and the library, where relationships had already been established with local residents. With funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, our weekly Storytime STOP for families was launched at Oakridge Public School and at Polycultural Immigration and Community Services (PICS), the week of March 19th, 2012. The relationship building with the children and their parents began.
The Leaders for Readers program, connecting area teens with primary students from Oakridge, started March 27th. We trained two groups of teens, one from Holy Name of Mary College School, who came to Oakridge, and another from Erindale and John Fraser who came to the public library.
The Parent Seminar program, equipping Oakridge parents with fun tools to improve literacy at home, began on May 3rd.
It was challenging, but wonderful! The Oakridge staff were incredible. Kim Gilpin, friend, colleague, Gr.3 teacher, Principal Laura Temple-Smith, and Jacqueline Guishard, Community Outreach Worker at the Early Years Hub who knows everyone, were our cheerleaders for the entire time!
At the completion of the Pilot Project in June, with generous donations from friends and family, we presented each Kindergarten student at Oakridge with a picture book, inscribed with their name.
The seeds of unconditional love were planted, providing a lasting change in the life of one child, one family, and one community… Sheridan! And some of those seeds have already grown… into a Story Garden! Through the Pilot Project, we connected with Jenifer Sim from Bentall Kennedy who offered to donate retail space in the Sheridan Centre.
Only problem? It wasn’t very pretty. But then… the transformation began! The whole community came together to remodel the space.
Arpine, Wanda, Nancy, Big Al, Lynn and Lois scrubbed. Jacquie unpacked the new furniture and Sandy washed, Heather sewed all the pillows.
Janine designed the space. Churches gave money for new furniture, CIC donated children’s tables and chairs. We even had some handymen come and put finishing touches on everything. Amazing!! Seeds are multiplying, the program is expanding and we are looking for sponsors and funding so we can continue to grow lifelong readers in many other communities!