The Literacy Advocacy Foundation
A New Adventure
During my time at UNA, I have had several wonderful opportunities. UNA has encouraged me to explore and expand upon my passions. Due to that support, I was able to create and found The Literacy Advocacy Foundation.
LAF is an official registered student organization within UNA. I am so incredibly proud of this organization, it's mission, our members and officers, and the impactful events we have hosted in the short time since our assembly.
The primary purposes of the Literacy Advocacy Foundation are:
1) Cultivate student teaching and learning of multiple literacies.
2) Take those skills into the community through acts of service.
3)Work towards destroying the stigma surrounding illiteracy.
LAF is an interdisciplinary organization and we aim to work to celebrate the wide array of diversity within our community.
LAF is the proud host, planner, and creator of the first annual Unity Reception.
The Literacy Advocacy Foundation celebrates and educates all facets of literacy. However, the Fall 2019 semester we placed our primary focus on multicultural literacy.
As a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, we wished that we may act as a conduit for all those on campus and within our community who champion for diversity, culture, and inclusion.
The reception’s goal was to bring together all those champions of diversity, culture, and/or inclusion and encourage them to find ways to discover their commonalities, share resources, and possibly build towards meaningful future collaborations.
The reception went better than anyone at LAF expected. We were hopeful for a respectable attendance, but remained realistically aware of the difficulties surrounding scheduling conflicts that faculty, students, and community members must adhere to. We were a little disheartened when the weather turned bad: a sudden cold snap, sleet, and snow made us hyper aware that our guests had obstacles to cross in order to attend out event.
Yet, even with the craziness of scheduling and the bad timing of Alabama weather, our guests came to celebrate their efforts towards making UNA and the Shoals area a more inclusive placed to learn and live.
Over 110 guests signed the guest book of the Unity Reception. All of our guests were excited and willing to meet like-minded individuals who share similar passions. LAF worked our hardest to provide the most inclusive space possible to serve as a model. Our efforts toward inclusivity included:
Providing an ASL interpreter
Including Braille food and drink labels in addition to typed labels
Arranging the reception space in the most open and accommodating way possible (while also offering separate seating space for those who may need it)
Providing a variety of food options to accommodate different dietary needs
Providing and organizing a separate space adjacent from the primary reception area to serve as a sensory room (including equipment such as lights, textile toys, and flexible seating)
The Literacy Advocacy Foundation could not be more pleased with how the first annual Unity Reception turned out. We ended the evening with a call to action initiative.
LAF will be collecting book donations from guests of the reception and beyond. The books donated will be an representation of the facet of diversity the donor would like to educate others about.
We will distribute these books throughout campus by building and maintaining mini diversity libraries.This is a combined effort to spread knowledge, understanding, and resources towards supporting diversity, culture, and inclusion. This is a facilitated step towards the unity we hope to have fostered within the reception and we hope it inspires many more collaborations and projects in the future. We are stronger together.
The Literacy Advocacy Foundation offers students opportunities to teach and learn through one another. In order to remove the stigma that surrounds the word "illiteracy" it is important to accept that we all have strengths and weaknesses and illiteracy is not a permanent position.
For example, I am not strongest in mathematics so one may say that I am financially illiterate. That does not mean that I will never successfully balance a checkbook or make a budget; I just need to have a willingness to learn and a clear understanding that literacy is attainable.
It is this way with everyone, whether it be traditional literacy (reading and writing), digital literacy, or environmental literacy. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and we can approach those simultaneously. There are 23 different literacies that LAF prioritizes. Students discuss their strengths and weaknesses and, depending upon the need of the group, an expert arises to teach the others. Students enjoy learning from other students, and students like to share their passions! We allow students to plan their own presentations, format, structure, and content. We facilitate where needed but students take ownership and responsibility for their mission of explaining their expertise to others. While doing so, they are building orality skills and also adding valuable experience to their CVs or resumes.
Finally,we make an attempt to tie everything back to serving the community. Students taking autonomy over their own teaching in learning is a great first step, but we must make that knowledge authentic so that it stays with them over time. We attempt to align community service projects with the literacy in which we are focused. Below, you will see past flyers of student led presentations and service events.
Want to learn more about the Literacy Advocacy Foundation? Follow us on social media or contact us directly for additional information.