Hope resident wins literacy contest

Peter Bailey was selected from a group of five finalists in B.C.

Hope’s Peter Bailey (right) receives a prize last Wednesday from John Brouwer

Hope’s Peter Bailey (right) receives a prize last Wednesday from John Brouwer

Hope resident Peter Bailey has won a province-wide literacy contest held by Decoda Literacy Solutions to raise awareness of the importance of British Columbia’s literacy needs.

Bailey’s win was announced at the Literacy is Life gala event held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last Wednesday. He was selected from a group of five finalists from other B.C. communities.

Bailey submitted his entry to the Literacy is Life Letters Contest to show other British Columbians that literacy truly is an essential part of life.

“I was just inspired to tell my story,” he said.

Bailey, who wrote his entire entry on an iPhone, told an emotional and compelling story of living as a “child survivor of illiteracy.” His father loved to read, but could not write. Bailey wrote of his difficult childhood where his father lost jobs when employers discovered he couldn’t read, or would resign when employers found out about the issue.

“The continued cycle of unemployment led to long periods of poverty,” he said in his entry. “He was raised to believe that a man’s role was to provide, and he couldn’t.”

While Bailey writes that his story does not have a happy ending, a feeling of hope punctuates its conclusion. He was able to create a life he loves, overcoming many of the challenges he and his father faced in the past.

“Happily married with two remarkable children, I work in social health,” he said. “I helped establish a literacy agency that provides services to the community…I am filled with hope through the inspiration of those working in education who make a difference every day.”

Hope resident Deb Flynn was also selected as a finalist, and was present at the gala to accept her third place prize. Flynn was nominated for her community efforts to start her own book exchange, where community children can buy quality age-appropriate books with their own “money” – she has accepted clumps of pennies, homemade paper money, IOUs, and even Canadian Tire money.

Organized by Decoda Literacy Solutions, the Literacy is Life campaign is a province-wide fundraising and awareness campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of literacy, create a new, modern understanding of literacy and raise funds to ensure that community-based literacy programs across British Columbia can support the people who depend on them.