One in four adults in Waterloo Region are functioning with Level 1 literacy. People with Level 1 literacy experience daily challenges such as: trouble filling out a catalogue order form; difficulties following dosage instructions on medicine; completing a job application form; using online banking; completing the online application for Employment Insurance; and reading health and wellness information. Level 3 is considered the level required to fully participate in today's knowledge-based economy. There has not been a significant shift in the literacy rate in adults for many years.
Why focus on early literacy?
Early literacy contributes to increased employment and earnings.
Early literacy contributes to decreased spending on Employment Insurance, Social Assistance and Workers Compensation.
Early literacy contributes to better health and lower health care costs.
Early literacy contributes to higher high school graduation rates.
The Early Literacy Alliance of Waterloo Region (ELAWR), in collaboration with Overlap, is currently working on the “Prescription for Literacy” project. The aim of the project is to reach out to the health care community – a universal access point for families – to highlight a critical window of opportunity for early literacy development.
We want to create an early literacy movement that drives people to understand the critical importance of early literacy and its resulting impact on our children and society. The health care community is a trusted resource for families and is therefore a powerful channel for connecting and engaging parents with the importance of early literacy. ELAWR will collaborate with Overlap to investigate possible health care channels and design mechanisms for driving behaviour change in hopes of improving early literacy skills.
We are using the “Design Thinking” approach, which is a method for solving complex problems. This approach is empathy and reality driven, by focusing on the people affected by the problem in order to solve it in a way that works for them and their reality.
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is an approach to problem solving that puts the needs of people experiencing a problem at the core. It provides a toolkit for deeply understanding people’s needs and experiences, generating ideas to meet those needs, and then implementing innovative and practical solutions.
This project is designed to spur creativity and innovation by engaging organizations that serve children and their families in designing, testing and implementing new or re-imagined approaches to ignite a passion for early literacy.