By Jane Bachynski, Associate, Borden Ladner Gervais, as told to Meg Friedman, Director of Advancement, Ottawa Network for Education
In 2001, BLG decided to undertake a national project that would involve BLG lawyers and staff at a grassroots level in the 5 communities in which we work: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. We agreed to focus on improving child literacy and working directly with kids in ‘beacon’ schools. Around the same time, OttawaReads was formed and it became a match made in heaven. Our objectives to support early literacy and share the joy of reading with kids aligned perfectly.
In short order, OttawaReads matched BLG with Queen Elizabeth Public School (QE), trained our readers, facilitated our police checks, and managed all of the details to get us seated side-by-side and reading aloud to students in kindergarten through grade 3. Last year, during the 2015-16 school year, 191 BLG lawyers and staff volunteered with “BLG Reads to Kids” across Canada. In Ottawa, we had 24 readers volunteering in teams of 4.
If you speak with BLG readers, they won’t hesitate to tell you that the one-on-one time they spend with students is the best 60-minutes of their week. It’s a great feeling to be standing at a classroom door and immediately see a dozen hands shoot up with a chorus of “Pick me! Pick me!”
There are upwards of 55 languages represented at QE. Many students are new Canadians, who for various reasons, do not or cannot engage in English or French language reading at home. OttawaReads has the capacity to identify schools like QE that have the greatest needs. BLG couldn’t be more pleased to do its part to provide one-on-one reading and literacy support.
Over the past 13 years, QE has become “our school.” We feel a real connection to the kids and want to help them succeed.
There are many good reasons for other local companies to get involved with OttawaReads. It supports employee morale and team building; and it’s a tremendous benefit to the children, teachers and our community. For more information, I encourage you to contact Heather Kotelniski at the Ottawa Network for Education by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (613) 366-3085 x 253. You will be happy you did.