A good book can transport a reader to distant times and faraway places, no ticket required. All you need is the ability to read.
Juliet Austin, director for Literacy Is For Everyone, known as LIFE, said literacy is also essential to ensuring every person can achieve their full potential.
“Children are our most precious resource,” she said. “If 90% of a child’s brain capacity is formed by age 5 years and, by 12 months, pruning of nerve connections starts where unused synapses wither and disconnect, then we must create stimulating, language-rich environments for children and build brains from birth.”
A two-time recipient of the Dart Grants programme, LIFE has used its funding to hire a full-time volunteer and programmes coordinator, Erica Dell’Oglio, who is putting her skills as a teacher and early-childhood specialist to work reinvigorating LIFE’s programmes.
Dart executive vice president with responsibility for community development, Pilar Bush, said Dart’s commitment to education and literacy is foundational to the company.
“Our eight Minds Inspired programmes and Dart Scholar initiative are rooted in the Dart family’s belief in the transformative powers of a good education," she said. "When Dart started mapping our business priorities to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2019, Goal 4 — quality education for all — resonated strongly with our educational initiatives in the community. Literacy is foundational to academic success and to empowering the next generation of community and business leaders."
LIFE is the only charity in the Cayman Islands dedicated solely to literacy, Austin said.
“As agents of change, we are on a mission to improve the quality of life for all those in Cayman by raising literacy levels and championing access to quality education for all as a basic human right,” she said. “By removing barriers to learning and combatting low literacy and intergenerational illiteracy, we break down societal, cultural and economic barriers that hinder equality and undermine the health and prosperity of our nation.”
In celebration of Literacy Month, LIFE is hosting a number of events to support literacy and education in the Cayman Islands, including its annual book drive.
Austin encouraged businesses and other organisations to become involved.
“LIFE is a grassroots charity that operates entirely on donations from the public, so why not host your own book drive for LIFE, drop off gently used children’s books at Mail Boxes Etc. or donate financially towards our work and programmes?” Austin said. “We never want economics to be the driving factor as to whether or not a child receives a quality education or access to resources. We are delighted to have the community join us to make LIFE’s mission possible.”
Please visit www.life.org.ky or the LIFE social media pages for more information on how to help.
This article appears in print in the September 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Hannah Reid