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Celebrating the Joy of Reading

Q&A’s with Kaitlyn Lightfoot

Where are you from? What place do you currently call home and why?
I am from the City of Selkirk in Manitoba, home of the Catfish. Our community has a population of 10,278 people and we have many fun things to do here such as walking trails through the Selkirk Community Park, a Community pool and Splash pad, and many parks and playgrounds situated around the town.

What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
A few things I would say I am passionate about is crafting, exploring nature and spending time with my children. I love to plan events and activities for children, including my own. It brings me such joy to see them learning in fun new ways as they get to experience fun literacy, numeracy, and STEM activities that I get to create for them. We love to be outside in nature as well. Whether it’s camping, hiking or roasting hotdogs on a fire, all of these things are so relaxing and really help you appreciate the beauty of nature. I grew up in the country so I think that has been a major reason why I am passionate about nature and the outdoors.

How did the idea for this project come to you?
In our community, February is dedicated to a month full of reading which we like to call, “I Love to Read Month”. Schools often have fun reading challenges and provide many opportunities for students to engage in reading. I Love to Read Month is such a huge success in the schools each year, that I thought it would be fun to bring a few different events into the community to give all children the opportunity to enjoy fun, free literacy activities throughout the month of February. We were able to provide 4 different Virtual Reading Events, as well as an in-person Drive Thru Story Event! We also included 2 fun draws over Facebook for families to receive a basket full of books, different Selkirk merchandise, donated goods from our local Library, and $50 Indigo gift cards.

What was your motivation behind this project?
Outside of schools, this was a new experience for our community to participate in so that was a huge motivation for me. Winter months seem to drag on sometimes as many people prefer to stay indoors due to the weather. Our outdoor Drive Thru Story Event was just the thing our community needed to get families out together on a Sunday afternoon while they could stay warm in their vehicles. The community absolutely loved this event. They were so happy with the story, free books and activity packages they received! For families not wanting to venture out into the cold, our Virtual Events were the perfect activity for them to enjoy from the comfort of their home!

How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?
We had so much amazing feedback from the community on both the Virtual Events and the Drive Thru Story Event. The Virtual Story Event provided 39 learners with 95 books and activity kits. The Drive Thru Story event provided 54 children with free books and activity kits. Some testimonials I received from parents, children and community members were as follows.

“We got more reading in the month than any other so far! My son is now reading at a Grade 3 level at 7 years old. Thank you so much!”

“Thank you for the books and the story! It was so awesome.”

“The option to Drive or walk through the story event was nice. Since it was a very cold day we needed to stay in the vehicle with our very small children. The accompanying questions to the story were a nice touch to keep the activity engaging for my 3 year old. They were very excited about the new books, activities, treats and stickers.”

In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?
The impact of our project was to bring fun, new literacy activities and books into our community for children and families to take home and bring into their everyday lives. Whether the impact was small or large on the individual, I am so grateful to have given so many children in the community the chance to be a part of the many inclusive events that connected families from all around the area.

The impact was much better than I expected! As February is a cold month here in Manitoba, sometimes it can lead to people wanting to stay indoors. This worked great for our Virtual Events as families didn’t even have to leave their homes, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to affect our Outdoor Story Drive. We ended up having so many families join us for the event and the feedback was incredible. I have to say I was very impressed with the outcome.

Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently?
A challenge I ended up having was with the storyboard velcro not staying attached to the wooden stakes during our Drive Thru Story Event. Luckily I had gone early to set up the story boards, but when I got to the site, the velcro adhesive started to fall off the stakes because it was too cold for the adhesive to stick in this weather. I was able to run to Home Hardware and grab a staple gun which worked great for attaching the boards to the stakes. Next time, I would test this ahead of time so I won’t have that issue the day of the event.

What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
I think Rising Youth is a wonderful tool to help make your project dreams come true in your community! I definitely recommend this to any youth who are thinking about starting a project in their own community. It is a great opportunity that you don’t want to miss!



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