If I had a million dollars, I wouldn’t have it for long. My needs are few and covered, so it behooves me to put the money to good use for others. But I can’t support every charity or cause. I can, however, focus on one or two, those with the biggest impact. So I picked literacy, because the benefits reflect and refract throughout the local economy.
What causes illiteracy in the first place? Any number of things. Delayed introduction into English (or French) as a second language. Undiagnosed reading or learning disabilities. Too much pride to ask for help. A prolonged hospital stay causing a student to pass that school year by a too-narrow margin, leaving them to struggle throughout the rest of their school term. Boring literature crammed into practical young minds, without context, interest, or application to their own day-to-day lives, resulting in a lifelong distaste for reading.
And just what is illiteracy, anyhow? The simple inability to decipher letters into words? At its worst, yes. But illiteracy is a much broader term than that.
It’s the ability to understand the full meaning of a text, to grasp its implications, to “get something out of it”. Tax forms, leases, on-the-job training guides, safety manuals, prescriptions and dosage requirements…Someone with low literacy skills may be able to read words, maybe whole paragraphs, but their knowledge gaps will seriously impede their ability to fully understand and apply what they’re reading. And that can have dangerous consequences.
There are so many secondary benefits to helping people improve their literacy skills. Improving someone’s literacy improves their chances at securing better paying jobs, which reduces unemployment and puts more money back into the local economy. It reduces workplace hazards for all employees, which in turn reduces accidents and sick time. Patients – and children – are safer.
On a personal level, I think it makes great economic sense: I want more people to buy books, so why not simply *make* more readers? Especially if we can empower them to earn more disposable income? And who knows, maybe they’ll put some of that disposable income toward other charities, like women’s shelters, or toward Juvenile Diabetes research.
But above all, seeing someone take a giant, scary step forward and ask for help, seeing them take charge of their own re-education, seeing them begin to read, seeing their eyes light up when they finally *get it*…It makes me wonder what *I* can do to improve myself. And it encourages young people to take their own education seriously.
And who knows, maybe those inspired young people will take their own learning to a new level and engage in cancer research, or find the cure for MS, or fight in any number of other worthy causes.
Simply said: we write so they can read. That’s the Muskoka Novel Marathon motto, and that’s why I spend 3-4 months prodding people for donations at every book sale, convention, and event.
I support literacy, because literacy can support all else. And between March 10 and July 7, I’ll be giving 100% of my royalties to do so.
Do you want to pitch in? I have a goal of raising $2000 this year (my best year was just over $1600), but I can’t do that on my royalties in just a couple of months. But you can help out here. Even five bucks goes a long way. 100% goes toward literacy, numeracy, and computer literacy programs through the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka.
Have the heart but not the cash? Please, please, please help me to raise awareness by sharing this post or by tweeting the donation page link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/pat-flewwelling-at-muskoka-novel-marathon/
Have doubts about the relevance of literacy programs? Don’t think it’s that big of a deal in Canada? Grab a coffee and check out some mythbusting facts from one of my past posts.
Now go read a good book. Because you can.