The Reading and Parents Program (RAPP) is helping words make sense to newcomers, and their children, in London, Ont.
LUSO Community Services founded RAPP in April 2008 to meet an obvious need. Indeed, 14 per cent of the City of London’s population were classified as visible minorities in 2006, with 10 per cent of Thames Valley students identifying their first language as something other than English or French, according to London’s Vital Signs.
RAPP is a practical family literacy program that provides parents, caregivers and their children with reading resources to use in their homes. It has received funding from the London Community Foundation, the City of London and Lambeth London Rotary Club.
Each RAPP pack consists of five elements: a quality children’s book, reading and language hints, poems and finger plays, a craft, and age-appropriate activity sheets, all of which reflect the theme of the story book.
Literacy staff meet with parents individually to demonstrate the pack and its use as a tool to encourage emergent literacy in children. Packs can be tailored to individual families to include books for younger and/or older siblings and/or books on topics pertinent and relevant to each family’s unique situation. Participants borrow and exchange the packs bi-weekly. Several of the kits are dual-language books, containing translated materials in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese and Arabic.
“We loved the kits – we can find a story in our language (Arabic),” one excited mother told RAPP representatives. “My children loved the book and craft – me, too! I loved it. It helped me learn English.”
The program received a $6,050 Community Fund Grant from London Community Foundation, which is committed to welcoming immigrants and supporting them in the community.
“The Reading and Parent Program encourages literacy skill development through key parent-child interaction and bonding – skills that will be carried throughout childhood, adulthood and life,” says Elisabete Rodrigues, LUSO Community Services Executive Director.
“It’s a benefit to individuals, families, and the community as a whole.”
LUSO Community Services is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to promoting inclusiveness, well being and the prosperity of the London community. Founded in 1979, it provides a range of programs and services to help newcomers and immigrants of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, as well as other disadvantaged populations.