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Two highly successful, free programs are run through Literacy Central Vancouver Island (LCVI). B.E.A.R.S & B.E.A.M.S (Be Enthusiastic About Reading (Math) Success) assists children in Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools who are falling behind and find reading and math a challenge.  The program provides a supportive network of dedicated community volunteers who inspire, support and mentor these students to engage in reading and work through math concepts and problems.

This program was started over 25 years ago and continues to grow and reach out to all elementary schools in the district. Interested volunteers are interviewed, criminal record checks are done and program goals and expectations are discussed. Schools are encouraged to contact LCVI once classrooms are settled in the new school year and throughout the year as needs arise.  The volunteer intake is year round. Under the direction of the classroom teacher, with materials supplied, the volunteer is matched with one or more students.

Bears and Beams volunteers commit to a minimum of one hour every week during school hours, throughout the school year. You will see “buddies” together in shared spaces, libraries, classrooms and other suitable spots depending on the school. The volunteers come from all walks of life, all ages, from 19-91 and simply want to give their time to help and give back to the community.  They share and value the important attributes of patience, enthusiasm, good listening and communication; encourage a love of reading and a positive attitude to learning with the goal of enriching children’s lives and presenting opportunities for success. Volunteers are rewarded when they see the progress being made by the children as they become more confident, gain self esteem and increase their reading and math skills.

The feedback is heartwarming and reinforces that the program is making a difference.  The volunteers say,“ The children are respectful, attentive and fun.”  The students and volunteers are excited to see their buddy.

Classroom teachers comment, “We love our volunteers; it’s a wonderful program. The concern and commitment to the development of students has had a positive impact on student achievement and satisfaction with learning experiences.  They make a difference.”

Family Literacy is another program at LCVI which is focused on parents’ literacy skills.  This provides one-to-one tutoring for parents who are struggling to cope with reading, writing, math or even computer literacy in their daily lives.  This can make people uncomfortable dealing with schools, trying to understand notices, dealing with homework and even attending a classroom or school event.  A trained volunteer tutor can help parents in the program work to improve their literacy skills through an individual plan which will have many positive benefits for themselves and their families.

More information is available at www.literacycentralvi.org; drop by the office at 19 Commercial Street;  or call 250.754.8988