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LDAK Summer Update 2022

Another school year has come to an end, with Covid-related impacts continuing to affect the educational experiences of our children and youth. And yet, the horizon looks brighter, or at least less stormy. In-person school is back in session and public health restrictions are easing back, allowing kids and families the opportunity to enjoy some regular summer activities. We hope your families have a ton of fun before returning to school life in the fall.

Meanwhile, LDAK’s volunteers and staff will be easing off as well during July and August, taking some much needed breathing space and planning activities for the fall and winter. Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve achieved this past school year:

Webinars: We presented a number of free, online webinars on living with learning disabilities, literacy challenges and literacy education for young children with LDs, and the release of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Right to Read Report. These webinars have proven to engage more people and allow us to broaden the range of presenters more than in-person events, and we will continue to offer virtual opportunities to the community to engage with us and learn about the latest in the field of learning disabilities.

LDAK Literacy: The pilot program launched at the beginning of April with 16 students in grades 1-3 receiving free Science of Reading based, one-on-one literacy tutoring. Working with literacy experts who volunteered their time and knowledge, we led a tutor training program, recruited and trained tutor candidates, and worked closely with 3 local primary schools to provide space and other support for the program. The pilot program is wrapping up this week and we held a completion party for the students at Rideau Heights Library (thank you for the space, the pizza and the drinks!). All 16 students completed the program, which is great in and of itself, and evaluation of changes in their reading skills is underway. Comments from families so far are very positive, focusing not only on improvements in their children’s reading skills but also on their confidence as readers and their pride in being able to read and even enjoy reading.

Speak Up for Ability Annual Forum: This year’s forum, which we presented online with the support of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, was our best attended to date and offered 5 sessions on literacy education and the Right to Read Inquiry & Report. We were able to offer a vibrant array of literacy experts, educators, educational policy makers, parents/caregivers and advocates. The Ontario Human Rights Commission lawyers presented a keynote presentation for parents, and we had participation from both public school boards in Kingston as well as Queen’s University Faculty of Education. The forum concluded with a very active panel session in which forum participants could engage with the presenters and one another.

Keeping the Lights On: This past year brought us a richness of resources, including new volunteers and board members, funding grants, and opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and our school boards. We are updating our website, increasing our social media presence and getting better at the tech stuff as a result. We have benefitted immensely from having 2 amazing part-time staff helping us on tech and outreach initiatives, and generally keeping us organized and on track. And we have struggled, as we always do, to find money to keep the lights on (or the phone and internet as it tends to go nowadays) and the staff paid. It takes work to generate funding to do the work of the organization, and so we invest volunteer time and labour in pursuing funding opportunities. The resumption of volunteer shifts at the Community Spirit Gaming Centre means that in the coming months we should receive reliable monthly funding at pre-Covid rates, and that will be a big help for the bottom line.

As always, we thank our many volunteers who are helping with program development, web redesign, fundraising and volunteering at bingo, and outreach. If you have too much time on your hands and not enough gardening work, please consider volunteering with LDAK (it’s fun and rewarding), and you can also donate to us. You can click here or use the “Donate” button on LDAK’s homepage, and the “Get Involved” tab of our website for details.

And thank you to our funders, primarily Community Spirit Gaming Association through OLGC, the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, and Kingston Waterfront Rotary Club.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy summer!

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