Over 20 years ago, Anixter Center realized that literacy was essential in its efforts to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. To answer that need, Anixter Center created the Jack Ehrlich Literacy Program, the first and only Chicago area literacy program that focuses on the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Whereas many literacy programs operate in a group setting, our program primarily provides adult learners with a volunteer tutor for 1 on 1 individualized attention. Adult learners determine the goals that are important to their lives and work on accomplishing them with the assistance of their tutor. Goals can vary from: the ability to understand prescriptive drug instructions, reading a map to plan a pathway to a destination, gaining computer skills, learning the alphabet, or finding a job. We do offer some small groups in subjects such as: computers, basic math, creative writing, and reading. Our volunteer tutors commit at least 1 hour each week for at least 3 months, although the average time in our program is about one a half years for tutors! The tutoring experience can be greatly beneficial to both learner and tutor. We simply couldn’t assist so many individuals with disabilities without the dedication of our volunteers!
Several of our art studio programs make links to literacy. Examples include children writing “thankful cards” during Thanksgiving season; writing and designing comic-strip-style stories; and puppet-making or soft-sculpture character making where children develop a character and tell their story.
Arts, Cultural and Literacy Connections, cultivates students’ self-expression through writing and their creation of original work of art, drama or dance with the support of our discipline specific consultants who make a total of 15 visits per classroom.
Companions Journeying Together staff and trained volunteers bring into the jail or prison a selection of brand new books, along with audio recorders. They assist participating parents in choosing an age-appropriate book for each one of their children. Each of the participants are then given an opportunity to record him or herself reading the books for their children. If the participant wishes, he or she may end with a message of love to the children and thanks to the caregiver. On behalf of the parent, we then send the books and CD to the children.
PreK (Age 0-3), PreK (Age 3-5), Grades K-8, Grades 9-12, Adult