Imagine being a dad who can’t understand the meaning of sentences or spell simple words such as “easy” or “less”, or having children you are unable to read to. Wanting to improve his literacy skills, and strengthen the bond with his children, Mark returned to the classroom at The Salvation Army in Winnipeg.
The Salvation Army’s community-based literacy program STEP (STages Education Program) is a safe and friendly place where participants with a low literacy level (usually below Grade 6) learn basic reading, writing, math, computer and life skills.
“There is no set curriculum,” says Mandy Marsland, Program Supervisor. “Individuals come to the program with different levels of literacy. An education plan is developed for each student.”
At age 50, Mark, father of four, was diagnosed with dyslexia. “As a teenager I couldn’t complete tests that my eight-year-old brother had no issues with,” recalls Mark. “I was frustrated and knew something was wrong. For most of my life I’ve felt intimidated and overwhelmed.”
When Mark came to STEP he was at a Grade 3 writing level and didn’t know how to turn a computer on. “I’m learning skills I haven’t had in over 30 years,” says Mark. Carley Tay, computer and literacy instructor, says that Mark is now reading at a Grade 5 level, can fill out job application forms, reads directions, researches and saves files on the computer.
“Mark’s renewed confidence and determination is showing his children that overcoming barriers is possible,” says Tay.