After many years of seeking funds and doing fundraising, the NWT Literacy Council (NWTLC) is excited to announce that we will be supporting the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) program in 15 NWT communities this year! In these communities, families with children 0-5 years old can sign up each child to receive a free book in the mail every month until their fifth birthday. Registered families will receive family literacy activity packages from the NWTLC.
Dolly Parton began the program in her home state of Tennessee in 1995. It is now offered throughout the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. She started the program to help children have high-quality, age-appropriate books in their home library. Through funding and logistical support from the Dollywood Foundation of Canada and wholesale book purchasing, DPIL is able to provide the program at a low cost to community organizations.
Thanks to funding from the United Way NWT and the GNWT’s Healthy Choices Fund, the program will be offered in:
Our Family Literacy project team is busy preparing fun activities, tied to the monthly books, that families can do together. We want to encourage families to read the books, and spend time together with the crafts, games, and activities. Each month, children from a different age group will receive an activity pack connected to their book. For example, one month each family with children 0-1 year old will receive activities, and the next month each family with children 1-2 years old will receive an activity pack, and so on. NWTLC will oversee the preparation and delivery of these kits to each community listed.
We are looking for Community Champions in many of the communities to help support the program roll-out. Community Champions will inform families in their community about the program, help families with signing up, and distribute the monthly activity kits throughout their community on behalf of the NWTLC. Community Champions can be librarians, early childhood educators, teachers, Community Health Representatives, parents or anyone else interested in supporting the promotion of the program in their community. Community Champions will be reimbursed for any expenses such as gas for delivering activity kits and will receive an honourarium for their time. If you are interested in being a Community Champion for your community, or have questions about the role, please contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In most communities on the list, you can sign up online by searching with your postal code here. For families in Ndilo, Dettah and YKDFN members living in Yellowknife, you will need to use a paper sign-up form. Please contact us at email@example.com to get the form.
We would also like to acknowledge the existing DPIL programs that have been happening in the NWT for many years. BeautyMark Salon and the Rotary E-Club of Canada One have been supporting the program in 16 communities. The Deh Gah School in Fort Providence also has a DPIL program. You can read about these programs here.
BeautyMark Books From Birth is the Deh Cho affiliate of the DPIL. Salon owner, Troy Bellefontaine, wanted to partner with DPIL so that they could get more books in the hands of more children. It is so important to encourage early literacy. Troy felt that this partnership and community-based reading workshops could help to improve school readiness for children living in our communities. Troy has been a great champion of the DPIL program, and has helped us with our journey to start this larger program. Troy has heard from families that children love checking the mail to find that they have received their own mail with their name on it.
The Rotary E-Club of Canada One began the program in May 2014 in Tuktoyaktuk. Since then, it has expanded to another nine communities. The program is supported in all Beaufort Delta communities, Norman Wells and Fort Resolution. To date, 16,685 books have been mailed to the children in those communities. In addition to donations from Rotary E-Club members and friends, a major contributor was the Rotary Club of Innisfail, Alberta. Two communities have also done their own local fundraising to provide the books for their children.
We will continue to seek more continuous funding and host fundraising events to further expand the DPIL to include Yellowknife, as well as to support the program in future years. If you would like to support the ongoing work of the NWTLC to share the DPIL program, you can donate by selecting “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Around the NWT” as the fund here. We look forward to hearing about all of the excitement as children start checking their mailboxes for books!
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