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Lucky For You – You Can Read This

My Marathon: No sweat!
On July 11, I hunker down with 39 other marathoners to raise money for a great cause. And no, I don’t need to invest in elite running gear. Heck, I probably won’t even need sunscreen. I understand I will need a hat and a cape but only for inspiration. Oh yeah, I also need to bring my laptop.

Yes. You’re right. It’s not that kind of marathon. It’s the annual Muskoka Novel Marathon held in Huntsville. I have 72 hours to write a novel, so maybe I’ll sweat just a bit. This is not my first novel-writing marathon but it is the first time I’ll join this venerable organization to help raise funds to support literacy services offered by the Simcoe/Muskoka YMCA.

For visitors, this part of Canada’s Cottage Country may look like the land of big boats, luxury cottages and endless summertime fun. But in a vast region of lakes, granite outcroppings, dense bush and towns and villages, there are Simcoe/Muskoka residents who struggle with different barriers to life’s full enjoyment. Low-level literacy is among them.

Literacy: A basic human right
According to the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (CLLN), a non-profit research agency in Ottawa, “42% of Canadian adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have low literacy skills.”

Literacy is a basic need – I believe it is a basic human right, in fact. Imagine not being able to read the directions on allergy medicine. What if your daughter asked you to read her a bedtime story – and for you, that means deciphering the pictures?

How much fun would it be to fill out an application form if you can’t understand the questions? “Oh, I’ll take this home and drop it off tomorrow” doesn’t often work in a job interview.

Literacy programs are needed everywhere in Canada. And the CLLN suggests that any money put into literacy initiatives will have a significant impact. “A 1% increase in the literacy rate would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year…Investment in literacy programming has a 241% return on investment.” Read more about these statistics here.

My “financial literacy” is pretty basic but even I know that $18 billion is a whole pile of money. And I sure wish my RRSP had a 24% return, let alone a 241% payback.

How You Can Help: In Muskoka or Anywhere

So far, I’ve raised just over $800 in sponsorships – I’ve now set my sights on $1000 by July 11. I welcome your support but remind you that there are local agencies in your community that offer literacy programs. If you don’t want to support my marathon, look around your neighbourhood and make an investment closer to home. When literacy rates rise anywhere in Canada, we all benefit.

Next time you check the ingredients on a soup can or review the directions to your friends’ cottage, give a moment’s thought to those who cannot.

Sponsor me at Canada Helps online donation centre  or send me an email at walkwrite@sympatico.ca

Or

Drop by the Muskoka Novel Marathon at the Active Living Centre (Canada Summit Centre) 20 Park Drive, Huntsville, from July 11-14, 2014 and leave a donation in one of the donation jars (between 8 am – 11 pm July 12-13 and 8 am – 8 pm on July 14).

Or
Google “literacy programs in Canada” to find out where your closest literacy programs are offered and send them your support.

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