On October 1, United Way York Region member agency Literacy-Council York-Simcoe (LCYS) held a book launch for From Our Pens, a collection of stories and paragraphs produced by participants in some of its programs. LCYS is a non-profit organization that helps English-speaking adults in York Region to improve their literacy, numeracy, computer and employment skills.

United Way York Region provides funding to LCYS so that instruction in and upgrading of literacy and numeracy skills can be provided to small groups of learners. As many of the participants are striving for economic independence, these programs not only help them refine these skills, but they also aim to increase their chances of employability. While much of the work focuses on practical skills needed in everyday life, from time to time, learners are encouraged to do some purely creative work.

From Our Pens is the result of some of those creative endeavours. In some cases, participants create stories evolving out of their thoughts about what they see in photographs and prints shown to them; in other cases, learners choose to write about topics of significance to them. Whether they are doing upgrading work of a practical nature or writing creatively, participants are achieving similar results: they are enhancing all aspects of their literacy skills.

The book launch took place at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish Hall in Newmarket. Among those in attendance were some of the authors of the stories and paragraphs in From Our Pens (two of whom delighted the audience by reading their stories). Also present were guest speaker Francine Kopun, a business reporter with the Toronto Star who spoke to the audience about the craft of writing, and students from Pickering College who entertained the audience with musical interludes.

This is the third volume of learners’ writing that has been published by LCYS; previous volumes were published in 2007 and 2009. Books are sold for $5 each and all proceeds support LCYS and the programs and services it offers. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the latest edition of From Our Pens, please contact LCYS at 905-853-6279. If you wish to learn more about this organization, please visit www.lcys.ca.


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