At the Sam's Place literacy program, children participate in an activity related to the book they read together.
MCC photo

At the Sam's Place literacy program, children read together and then do activities related to the book. The program is facilitated by CMU student Amelia Warkentin (second from left) and volunteers like Jess-Lyn Pillay (far right).

A special summer program at Sam’s Place is giving children in Winnipeg’s Elmwood neighbourhood a new passion for reading, and a head start on the next school year.

 

Sam’s Place is a café, used bookstore, and concert venue supporting the work of MCC. This summer, Sam’s Place is offering a reading program from 10:00-11:30 each weekday morning. The program has brought in children from a wide area, but most come from the area around the café.

“In this neighbourhood, a lot of kids can’t afford to go to things like summer camp,” says Andy Arthur, the manager at Sam’s Place. “We wanted to offer something that would be fun, would support literacy, and would help kids get excited about books.”

“We wanted to offer something that would be fun, would support literacy, and would help kids get excited about books.”

The excitement seems to be spreading.

“I’m encouraged by how many kids are showing up, and they’ll come back and bring friends. And the parents are really excited about their kids participating in something like this.”

For Amelia Warkentin, the Canadian Mennonite University student who is facilitating the summer program, it’s been great meeting parents and hearing their enthusiasm for the program and for Sam’s Place, but she’s been most touched by watching the children read to each other, and seeing how engaged they are.

Sam's Place summer reading program

 

Warkentin has been offering extra reading help for individual children in the afternoons. For some of the children, the extra support could make a big impact.

“One little boy who has been coming has only been in Canada for about a month.”

“One little boy who has been coming has only been in Canada for about a month,” she says. “I sat with him one day and helped him as we played a bingo game that involved matching pictures with words. I loved watching him make connections between the images and words, realizing, ‘Oh, this is called a tree,’ and seeing how excited he was when he got to check things off on his bingo card.”

“At the end of the day, he kept saying ‘Bingo! Bingo!’ because he’d had so much fun.”

All that fun at Sam's Place could make a big difference when school starts this September.

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Sam’s Place is a social enterprise owned by MCC Manitoba that seeks to build community in the Elmwood neighbourhood of Winnipeg and connect people with the work of MCC. Find out more—and learn how you can help by volunteering—at samscommunity.com.

 

 

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