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11642 - 142 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5M 1V4
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Our Mission Statement:
The Centre for Family Literacy builds, develops and improves literacy with families and communities.

C.O.W. Keeps Roaming

On a very cold bitter day in January 2004, the Alberta Prairie Classroom on Wheels C.O.W. Bus program was launched at Government House.

Since then the C.O.W. Bus has travelled the length and breadth of the province promoting family literacy to more than 61,500 children and adults in over 700 communities and distributing thousands of children’s books with an emphasis on Canadian authors and Aboriginal stories.

We asked the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus staff to share some of their experiences.

Has the program changed over the years?

We continue to build awareness of family literacy and support local literacy organizations in each of the communities we visit. More recently we have had the opportunity to deliver community capacity building programs where the bus visits the same community multiple times throughout the year. We have also started a newsletter that we send to parents and partner agencies with family literacy activities and ideas.

You have travelled thousands of kilometers across the province. What is the most interesting road you have been on?

Overall we were impressed by the number of paved roads that we have in Alberta. Many of the isolated communities did present a challenge when it rained as the roads in were often gravel or even dirt.

Driving the bus over very windy or hilly roads can be a challenge so the trip to Grande Cache on Highway 40 in the winter is memorable. The ice road just north of Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan stands out as the most interesting for a number of reasons: the shear fact you are driving on a road that is only open when the ice is thick enough to support your vehicle, and the isolation as you travel for hours with no one in sight.

You have certainly had some memorable moments on your travels. Can you share some of these with us?

On one trip there was a little boy who asked us if we would be able to change the C.O.W. Bus into a dog! On another trip we had Ronald McDonald come and visit the bus. He was so tall that his head hit the ceiling.

However, our favorite visits are when parents and caregivers come to the C.O.W. Bus and take pictures or create a list of our homemade crafts and learning materials to replicate at home with their children. It’s so encouraging when parents and caregivers tell me how excited they are to go and share books, sing and play together with their kids when they get home after having visited the bus!



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