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Literature for Life

Submitted by on December 28, 2011 – 11:17 pmNo Comment

December, 28, 2011

Books are mirrors, windows and doors. They tell us who we are, where we have been and where we can go.

Literature for Life unleashes intellectual potential. We are committed to supporting the role of mother as her child’s first teacher by facilitating our one-of-a-kind reading circle program to marginalized women throughout Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods. Our trained facilitators choose books with stories and characters that are relevant and meaningful to the young mothers who will read them. Through reading and sharing stories, these mothers develop skills in literacy, empathy and decision-making, and they pass these skills on to their children. Our programs serve the needs of two generations for the price of one.

Since the organization’s founding in 2000, Literature for Life has distributed 20,000 books to young mothers and their children. More than 1,800 young mothers have taken part in Literature for Life’s reading circles, and have been encouraged to begin reading to their children and participating in positive parenting discussions. The reading circles have also inspired participants to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education, find meaningful employment, and build a stronger future for themselves and their families.

Literature for Life is committed to assisting marginalized young mothers in developing modes of self-expression as a tool for personal agency, self-actualization and building capacity for persuing education and employment. We operate an inclusive community, engaging our clients in taking control of their own identities as women, mothers, and community members through participation in programs, evaluations, implementation, advisory work and employment opportunities.

Literature for Life was winner of the Mayor’s Community Safety Award for 2004 and 2009. Other awards to the organization and affiliates include the Canada Post Community Literacy Award and the YWCA’s Young Woman of Distinction award. Founding Executive Director Jo Altilia has been recognized as a YWCA Woman of Distinction, and was also awarded the Toronto Community Foundation Vital People Award in 2010.

Literature for Life has been featured on CTV (National News, Local News, Success Stories), CBC (Metro Morning), CFRB, The Flow 93.7, CUITS Radio, Toronto Police Services Website, City TV (Second Chance), TVO (Imprint), Global TV (News with Susan Hay) and in the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun and the National Post newspapers.

We have gained wide support from public figures and community organizations including Margaret Atwood, the journalist Barbara Turnbull, The Youth Challenge Fund, Victims Services, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, The Office of the Attorney General, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto Police Services, and the University of Toronto’s Fleming Laboratory.

Operating Locations:

Humewood House
Massey Centre
1900 Sheppard Toronto Community Housing (see the WomenwithWordz blog)
June Callwood Centre
Jane & Finch Family Community Centre – Women Moving Forward
Breaking the Cycle Program in Scarborough


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