October was Dyslexia Awareness Month, and the Midhurst area actively participated.
The Springwater administration centre, just west of Midhurst, was lit up in red on October 21, as part of Dyslexia Canada’s “Mark it Read” awareness campaign. Springwater was Ontario’s smallest municipality to participate. “I hope that on October 21st,” said Mayor Don Allen at the Springwater council meeting on October 7, “you will join me in taking the time to learn a little bit more about dyslexia, how it affects those in our community and what we can do to be more inclusive.”
Also participating in “Mark it Read” throughout October was the Springwater Health Centre, located at Bayfield St and Carson Rd in Midhurst. Signs on the property proclaimed “Dyslexia Awareness Month” and “Read for Dyslexia.” At night, one side of the centre was illuminated in red. “We’d like to contribute to a broader awareness of dyslexia,” said Dr Robert Gabor, the centre’s director and a family physician who practises there. “I’d especially like to see parents, teachers and healthcare providers learn more about dyslexia.”
On October 16, Forest Hill Public School in Midhurst held a red shirt day for dyslexia awareness. Through the week, there were also various activities to increase students’ insight into the condition. Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario and MPP for Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte, included a post on his Facebook page recognizing Dyslexia Awareness Month. It stated that dyslexia is the most common learning disorder in the world, one that affects five million Canadians. Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition, which causes a person to have difficulty learning to read, write and spell. Experts estimate that 10%-20% of the population are dyslexic. It’s difficult to know the number more precisely because universal screening for dyslexia is not carried out in Ontario schools. Most dyslexics have not been formally diagnosed.
“The good news though,” according to Alicia Smith, president of the Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, “is that most persons with dyslexia can learn to read well if they receive the right instruction.” She adds that, “if their challenges are identified before Grade 1 and they receive the help they need early, they may never even experience the emotional toll of falling behind.”
For the past year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has been conducting a wide-ranging “Right to Read” inquiry, examining how reading is taught in the Ontario school system. Its report and recommendations are expected in the Spring.
For further information on dyslexia, go to: www.idaontario.com; www.decodingdyslexiaon.org; and www.dyslexiacanada.org.