Did you know that roughly 40% of adult Albertans do not have the minimum levels of literacy required to fully participate in today’s economy? Or that literacy is linked to: education, employment, income levels, health, and involvement in the criminal justice system?
P.A.L.S - Project Adult Literacy Society provides tutors for adults with low literacy skills. These volunteers help to build on existing literacy skills to meet the needs and goals of their students.
Here is an unedited testimonal from one such student.
When I called PALS it was because I knew I had to improve reading. My reading skills were almost nil. In school I felt I was the kid in the back that the teacher always forgot was there. I was good with numbers and good with art. I was stubborn and there was a lot of pressure from my family to do better and it affected my self- esteem. I didn’t like being pushed. The teachers were so negative with me that it made me believe them that there was something wrong. I started stuttering and was anxious all the time.
I went to work for my dad in our family business; I had always helped out there anyhow. During the financial crisis a few years ago business fell off and I started looking for work outside the business. I got a job in security. My wife helped me with all the reading and studying for it. Then I got on at WCB. I had to write reports at the end of every shift. They took me forever and I wasn’t sure they were right. I was worried I would loose that job if people realized how much trouble I was having.
A friend knew about P.A.L.S. and told me to come down. I was so nervous. I thought everyone would be judgmental. I had no other experiences. Those negative voices from the 60’s were still with me. I had reservations about even being at PALS and real trust issues. I started to relax once I met my tutor. She understood my problems, and she reassured me that we could work on anything I was having trouble with.
We have been working together now for almost 2 years. My writing skills have really improved. I can read the newspaper no problem. I read a lot of technical material for my job. I took a computer course at P.A.L.S. and am now working in shipping receiving at a transmission shop. It requires a lot of reading of manuals and I work on a computer all day. Two years ago there would not even have been chance I could have done a job like this. I am proud that I can do this kind of work. My wife says my whole attitude has changed.
I have more confidence. My self-esteem is a lot better. Right now we are blazing through the lessons. As a present to myself I am buying a Kindle or an iPad. I feel I deserve one. I have worked hard for it. I have the whole Harry Potters series and am looking forward to reading them.
This year I went to the Edmonton Citizen’s Police Academy. I completed the first course to be a community support worker with the Edmonton Police. It is volunteer position. I completed the course and did well. I could not have that with out my learning at P.A.L.S. It has always been a dream of mine to be in police work. Someday I would like to be a police officer.
I am not as irritable or oversensitive as I used to be. My family has asked me what has changed. It was hard to tell them what I was doing, coming here to P.A.LS. Some of them are really proud of me but I don’t think they understand what this is all about. They never realized how big a problem not being able to read has been for me and how really important learning to read is for me. I am not all the way there yet. I want to improve as much as I can. I would like to get my GED or Grade 12. I never thought that was a possibility before. Now I do.
It wasn’t just that I couldn’t read but that I didn’t believe in myself. P.A.L.S. is a breath of fresh air for me. I feel free. I know now I can do what ever it is that I want. Those voices from the past are quieter and quieter.
If you have problems like I had, go to a place where they teach literacy. You won’t just learn math or reading; you will improve your life on all levels. Like me, you will free yourself to do anything you want.