When Chelsea Benaschak started working as a reading volunteer with United Way Regina, she was floored to find that some of the kids didn’t have a single book.
“United Way makes each kid a package with a bunch of activities, there’s modeling clay, but then they each get their own Dr. Seuss Book,” Benaschak said.
“The first time I ever participated, my student was seven years old, and that was the her very first book she got to own.”
Benaschak said literacy in children is vital, and that parents are crucial to the process which being expanded with the Regina Region Family Literacy Hub. The hubs aim to raise literacy skills and create awareness and understanding of family literacy, and to provide resources and information for parents and children.
“It goes outside of the United Way to the parents as well,” Benaschak said, “because that education and that reading and that learning is happening outside of school as well, that’s where they see the decline in that child’s progression.”
A Family Literacy Hub has opened in United Way Regina, becoming the eighth in the province.
According to the government website, the hubs help parents act as a teacher for their children and participate in their child’s education.
“We’re excited to be hosts for the Regina Region Family Literacy Hub,” said Amanda Lanoway, the Director of Engagement at United Way Regina.
“One of the best investments we can make in our community is investing in kids and investing in them early, and being part of the Regina Region Family Literacy Hub has allowed us to do just that.”
United Way is a non-profit organization in Regina committed to empowering people and building strong communities.
The Family Literacy Hub comes as an addition to the United Way’s childhood success initiatives.
Lanoway explained that there is research done showing that reading proficiently by the third grade is a critical milestone in a child’s life, which is why United Way focused on it. But with the Regina Region Family Literacy Hub they will focus on other aspects of literacy as well.
“The Regina Region Literacy Hub has allowed us to invest in kids even earlier,” Lanoway said. “We can connect with families in a different way.”
Research shows that the most rapid brain development in a child’s life happens before the age of five. Lanoway said they want to provide support from the time a child is born up until third grade to ensure they are able to grow.
“We really want to make sure we’re providing that full continuum of supports to families starting right from birth,” Lanoway said.
The Regina Region Literacy Hub will be focused in Regina and the surrounding areas, including Pilot Butte, Indian Head, Vibank, Southey, Francis, Imperial and Lipton.
This follows hubs in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Rosetown, Lloydminster and Collège Mathieu. These programs are supported by the Government of Saskatchewan.