Adult Learning is looking for volunteers
By Laura Bohnert
Are you looking for a way to give back to the community? How about getting involved in adult literacy? Adult Learning is looking for tutors to help make adult literacy accessible for everyone.
“Whitecourt/Lac Ste. Anne Adult Learning helps adults with their skills (such as reading, writing, numeracy, basic computer skills, life skills, and English language/ESL) through our free one-on-one tutoring program, small group tutoring, English language conversation groups, GED prep classes, and various other classes and workshops,” Lorraine Yagos, Whitecourt/Lac Ste. Anne Adult Learning coordinator, and Carla Burkell, Whitecourt/Lac Ste. Anne Adult Literacy coordinator, explain.
“We are about building vibrant learning communities that will enhance quality of life by increasing the ability of adults to engage in learning,” Yagos and Burkell continue. “We follow the guidelines of Community Adult Learning Programming (CALP) in Alberta, and there are about 130 programs in the province. Our community adult learning (non-profit) programs support Alberta’s rural and economic development by coordinating with local business and industry to identify learning gaps, and by leveraging programs and services to respond to those gaps and encourage continued growth in the community.”
The program aims to achieve four outcomes, the coordinators explain: “Enhanced access and participation of adults in learning (particularly those adults with barriers to learning); increased literacy and essential foundational skills of adults; strengthened pathways and successful transitions for adult learners; and increased capacity and alignment of community providers with public post-secondary institutions (i.e. NorQuest College).”
“Our focus area is Whitecourt, Anselmo and Blue Ridge, and all communities in Lac Ste. Anne County,” Yagos and Burkell add, noting that a few of the future classes they plan to offer will include GED prep (prepare for the GED exam), English language classes (ESL), community kitchen, financial fitness, life skills workshops (such as stress management and anger management), English language conversation groups, and computer basics.
The classes will be offered based on community need and the expressed interest of learners.
“Our learners must be 18 years old and reside in Alberta,” Yagos adds. “Priority is given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and all learners are assessed to determine the best program for them.”
Adult learning classes aren’t just limited by learner interest; they need volunteers to run, too.
“In Alberta, it is estimated that 40 per cent of adults do not have the literacy skills necessary to reach their potential in our knowledge-based society,” Yagos and Burkell point out, and that high percentage means higher demand for volunteer tutors.
“We have a waiting list of students for several volunteer tutors in Whitecourt right now to help in the areas of reading and writing and English language (ESL),” says Yagos. “We do have volunteer tutors available in Lac Ste. Anne County.”
Who is eligible to volunteer as a tutor? “Community members who are 18, have good reading and writing skills, have patience and a positive attitude, and who have a desire for lifelong learning and to see achievement and success in others,” Yagos describes. “The time commitment is two hours per week, and the schedule is flexible.”
“No prior training or experience is necessary,” she adds. “We provide training for our tutors.”
If you are interested in volunteering as a tutor, it is definitely worth the effort, Yagos and Burkell can affirm.
“Our tutors tell us what they enjoy most about tutoring is that it is very rewarding to know you are helping another person, and it’s mentally stimulating,” Yagos and Burkell agree. “Volunteering in any capacity can be life altering. The greatest sense of accomplishment can be recognizing an increase in the learner’s self-confidence and observing those ‘ah ha’ moments.”
“The programs we offer are opportunities to reach learners who may not recognize or feel comfortable admitting they need help with their literacy and other foundational skills,” the coordinators conclude. “Learning opportunities support the learner, the family, and the community.”