Trent University Hosts March 26 Celebration for Penpal Program’s 20th Anniversary


Event to honour 8,600 penpals who have written approximately 58,000 letters over the past two decades

Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Peterborough

On Friday, March 26 Peterborough elementary students in Grades One to Three will meet with their Trent University penpals for a celebration of another successful year of penpal writing.

This event is being held to acknowledge the end of this year’s Penpal program and to celebrate 20 continuous years of the Trent Penpal Program successfully working in partnership with Peterborough elementary schools. By the end of the 2009-2010 academic year, it is estimated that over 8,600 penpals will have written approximately 58,000 letters to each other.

“It is truly amazing the amount of support this program provides for literacy development in the Peterborough area. From the very beginning, it was seen as a way for university students to make a difference in the life of a child,” explains Dr. Deborah Berrill, a professor in the School of Education and Professional Learning at Trent, who helped to create the penpal program. “The goal is to promote literacy through sustained writing in a one-to-one relationship.”

Since 1989, penpals in this program have shared letters every month and meet on special occasions throughout the year. The practice of writing and reading a new letter each month helps young children develop reading and writing skills and an appreciation for literacy. Many teachers say that the relationships that are built make this the single writing activity that most deeply engages the children, particularly those who are struggling with reading and writing.

A schedule for the March 26 event is as follows:

Morning (9:30 – 11:40 a.m.)
Group A: Athletic complex – large gym
Group B: Great Hall, Champlain College          
9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. – Children are engaged in activities with their Trent penpals: reading, games, crafts, etc.
11:00 a.m. – Children’s entertainer Tim Holland

Afternoon (12:30 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.)
Group C: Athletic complex – large gym
Group D: Great Hall, Champlain College          
12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. – Children are engaged in activities with their penpals
2:00 p.m. – Children’s entertainer Tim Holland


Media are invited and encouraged to attend this event.

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer and Julie Kimball, Senior Program Coordinators, Penpal Program, Trent University, (705) 875-6838 or