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Houston program buys programs

Houston Link to Learn will purchase computers

Two grants to purchase computers will help the local literacy program expand its efforts.

“With software and licensing we’re hoping to buy four to six computers,” said Houston Link to Learning manager Marian Ells of the $2,500 received from the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation and the $4,000 from the provincial gaming grant program.

There’ll be informal instruction and free access to people who need, for instance, to fill out online forms.

“Online access for people can be an issue in a rural area,” said Ells.

In existence since 1991, Houston Link to Learning has greatly expanded the definition of literacy to many aspects of life.

“In the broadest sense, it’s not just reading or writing,” said Ells of Houston Link to Learning’s philosophy.

“There’s computer literacy, there’s health literacy, there’s volunteering, math literacy,” she said.

That expanded literacy definition explains the program’s food preparation programs, its drop in, child care availability and, at a local elementary school, a pre-kindergarten program.

“Food skills, there’s math with that in preparation and preserving,” Ells added.

The Food Skills for Families, for instance, is offered through a partnership with Diabetes Canada, offering tips and advice on shopping for easy and healthy meals.

Ells said the importance of literacy programs cannot be discounted given they form the first step toward programs to teach job skills.

Houston Link to Learning is primarily supported through the provincial advanced education ministry but also receives grants for specific programs.

It’s also now looking to replace its family literacy/community garden coordinator who left recently.

“Most people would think it”s a volunteer position, but it’s really not,” said Ells of the coordinator’s job of looking after literacy programs for all ages and establishing the garden program each year.

“There’s a lot of teaching involved, how to grow food, what food grows in the north and how to preserve it once you’ve grown it,” she added of the community garden.

Houston Link to Learning is based at the Morice Building located at the former Northwest Community College campus and the deadline for applications for the coordinator’s position was March 23.