Kamloops had a double connection at this year’s ABC Life Literacy awards night in Toronto.
The Kamloops Street School literacy outreach support services won honourable mention (and $5,000) in the Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award category.
That category highlighted five community groups offering innovative adult literacy programs that have had significant impacts on their clients and on their communities.
Street School relies on literacy outreach workers who develop supportive relationships with adult learners with high needs for daily living. The workers help students access post-secondary education and employment, and connect them to community support for housing.
The winner in the category was the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association’s Low Literacy Modular Employment Program. Other runners up included HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) in Vancouver, Taber and District Community and Adult Learning Association — Work Foundations in Taber, Alta., and The Centres for Employment and Learning of the Avon Maitland District School Board, The LearningHUB in Goderich, Ont.
On top of that, the event was hosted by Kamloops lawyer and public speaker Lesra Martin, who has his own literacy background story.
Martin grew up in poverty in the U.S. and was illiterate at age 16 when some Canadians met him and convinced his family to let them bring him up north.
He graduated from high school and went on to study law. He read Rubin Hurricane Carter’s autobiography and began writing the former boxer in prison. He became involved in an effort to get Carter released from prison, which finally occurred in 1985.