16 Wing promotes literacy and leadership values to students

News Article / December 8, 2017

Click on the photo under “Image Gallery” to see more photos.

From 16 Wing Public Affairs

The second annual Rotary Club of Barrie Grade Two Book Distribution started on November 15, 2017, at 14 elementary schools across the Barrie, Ontario, district to promote literacy and the fundamentals of leadership. The Rotary Club chooses community leaders to be part of the book distribution, and this year 16 Wing Borden, Ontario, was chosen to be that community leader.

The Rotary Club’s intent was to convey the ideals of Rotary through a story. These ideals comprise a four-question test that has been around since the formation of the Rotary Club. The questions are: “Is it the truth?”, “Is it fair to all concerned?”, “Does it build good will and friendship?”, and “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” The principle answer to all questions should be “Yes”.

Andy & Elmer’s Apple Dumpling Adventure, by Andrew J. Shoup, conveys these ideals. TokoBooks and the Rotary Club of Fairborn, Ohio, jointly publish it. The Rotary Club of Barrie heard about the program and procured 1,300 books to hand out to elementary school students as part of its commitment to vocational community service.

On November 15, several 16 Wing members, each accompanied by a Rotarian escort, travelled to their assigned schools. Rotarian Colleen Lorimer and Sergeant Duane Markle, from the Royal Canadian Air Force Academy, visited Holly Meadows Elementary School. They were warmly greeted and felt very comfortable in the classroom setting, and the two of them read to three different classes. During the readings, the children were very focused on the story, and afterwards had the opportunity to ask questions. Some would ask about apple dumplings and others about their guests’ professions. “They were honest questions,” Sergeant Markle said, “and so adorable.”

Aviator Janet Traill, of the 16 Wing Air Reserve Flight, walked into Emma King School and noticed an art display of poppies hand-drawn by all of the students, and library displays full of books about the First and Second World Wars. “It was nice to see that the students’ education involved Canada’s military history,” she said. Accompanied by Rotarian Carol Norman, Aviator Traill sat down in the library to read, but first took some time to talk about her experience in basic training and to answer questions. She asked students if they had any family members in the military and the majority of hands shot up. “When I told them about the challenges and successes I experienced in training,” she said, “I emphasized teamwork and explained that the strength of our platoon depended on our efforts to help each other and work together”. Coincidentally, these were the theme of the book and its moral message.

Master Corporal Tanya Oke, from the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE), said she felt privileged to visit Algonquin Ridge Elementary School for the Grade Two book distribution. She met with Rotarian Paul Berendson, and together they were led to a classroom with about 30 students. After introductions, they sat in a rocking chair and read to the children. Master Corporal Oke said she thoroughly enjoyed being part of a wonderful opportunity.

The same experiences were felt by all of the 16 Wing members who were involved in the 14-school itinerary. Master Warrant Officer Jason Houle, also of CFSATE, said it was a great initiative by the Rotary Club and that he would “jump at the chance to do it again”. 16 Wing’s chief of staff, Lieutenant-Colonel Rebecca Evans, said she was thrilled when girls in the class came up to her and complimented her on her “pretty” uniform, and inspired by how the seven-year-old students understood the meaning of the book right away.

16 Wing is always appreciative of opportunities to participate in community enrichment activities. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Barrie, 16 Wing is a little richer after this experience.

Date modified: