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Reaching Out Through Reading

A group of dedicated students at Trent really walk the talk of community outreach

Approximately 80 student volunteers form the Trent Students For Literacy (TSFL) group, and they forge many bridges to the Peterborough community as they help others develop literacy skills.

There are a few different ways students can volunteers with TSFL. They can be involved in a leadership capacity, as part of the organizational team. They can choose to tutor children or teens on a one-to-one basis. They can lead a weekly reading circle with groups of children. Or they can opt to read to elderly residents in Riverview Manor. All volunteers spend at least one hour each week engaged in their TSFL activity.

"People are really eager to volunteer with us," says student tutor co-ordinator Tara Kerba, a fourth-year psychology student.

"I was a reading circle volunteer for two years and I loved it. It was very rewarding," adds fourth-year student Liz Cacciacarro. "The children were always looking forward to it."

Liz spent her reading circle time with a group of three- and four-year-old children at the Trent Child Care Centre. There are three other locations – Peterborough Square, the Peterborough Family Resource Centre and Grove Public School – where reading circles take place on a weekly basis.

"This is completely student-driven," says Marisa Conlin, regional co-ordinator with Frontier College, a Canada-wide, volunteer-based literacy organization that supports TSFL. Marisa is a former Trent student and TSFL volunteer and says that the Trent program is one of the oldest in Ontario. It began in 1993, one year after the first group of its kind was launched at McGill University in Quebec.

Local educators and resource centre staff often refer students to the TSFL program. Word of mouth has also helped the program grow, and parents often call the TSFL office directly.

For more information about the TSFL program, please e-mail tsfl@trentu.ca or call the office at 748-1011, ext. 5362. An excellent resource library is also available at the TSFL office in Champlain College (located in the same area as the Nursing Program offices).

Photo 1: Trent Students For Literacy student tutor co-ordinator Tara Kerba (right) and TSFL volunteer Liz Cacciacarro challenge one another to find items in an "I Spy" book, a book that is part of the TSFL’s resource library in Champlain College.

Photo 2: Trent Students For Literacy volunteer works one-on-one with student.

Posted October 11, 2002

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Last updated October 24, 2002