Celebrate literacy today by doing some homework: For the next 30 minutes try to count the number of times you have to read or write something to go about your day.
How many street signs or bus routes? Text messages or Facebook posts? Menus or store prices? Bills or important mail? Job applications or work-related emails? Instructions from a teacher, doctor or pharmacy? What else?
What did you notice? How did you feel? Ask a friend to do the same and talk about your experiences.
I'll never forget the book Push by Sapphire (which inspired the movie Precious) and the impact it had on me when I read it. Over 2 or 3 days I felt the terror and shame and resilience of its main character Claireece as she struggled to read and to write. I slept badly. I felt scared and anxious. More than any other book I can remember, Push triggered an empathy I could see and taste and touch. I was seeing the world through Claireece's eyes. I was humbled and I learned something life-changing from listening closely to Claireece's story.
Today, as the coordinator for the library's Second Start Adult Literacy program I listen and learn more every single day. And I see resilience in our communities.
Nearly 800 million adults worldwide struggle to read, write or do math. According to ProLiteracy Americans without a diploma have a much greater chance of being unemployed and poorly paid.
Here in Oakland, nearly 60,000 adults struggle with the skills they need to get better jobs, help their children with homework, read instructions on a prescription, or participate in voting.
6,000 Oaklanders have participated in Second Start since 1984. I am honored to work for this student-centered, volunteered-driven program. We are part of an international network supporting adult learners to achieve goals they define.
The Second Start Adult Literacy program celebrates adult learners today for their courage, skill and commitment.
Every day we listen to each other's stories and learn together.
HAPPY LITERACY DAY!
Second Start provides free basic literacy to help adults (age 16 and up) learn to read, write and spell better. We offer computer assistance and classes, family literacy activities and more. We recruit and train volunteers to work with adults one-to-one or in small groups to help them reach their educational goals. Learn how to get involved.
Stay tuned. We'll be bringing you more local literacy news later this month during National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week: September 20-26, 2015.