Professor Owl’s September 2012 Newsletter

Summer holidays are a distant memory and for most school is in full swing! This month Professor Owl has plenty to share with you including updates from our favourite organizations, an interesting article, as well as our usual Professor Owl’s book recommendations!

Also, take Professor Owl’s reading challenge – write and let us know what books you are enjoying and win prizes. **Remember though you must let your parents know that you are writing to us…**

Learning to Read – How important is it?

By Sylvia McGrath

September is here and most children are now back at school, and ready to learn new things. Professor Owl’s Book corner cannot emphasize enough how important it is to learn and love to read. Ever since I can remember, I have always loved books. There was nothing like losing myself in a book. In fact, I cannot even remember when or how, but I was very young when I learned to read. My father was an avid reader and did everything to encourage me to read also. In my early years, we had an old gentleman who lived next door to us called Mr. Sheppard however, I always called him “Sheppy”.  He too would encourage me to read everything I could get my hands on. ‘Sheppy’ also had a huge library full of books and would give them to me to read; some of them I still have today such as a book of Long Fellows’ poems, Black Beauty and Ivanhoe. He really made sure I received and was able to read all of the classic books early in my life. Sheppy was also a great scholar and had travelled to many lands and he just loved to tell me the stories of his journeys.
Over the years my reading has helped me succeed in several managerial positions. I have had so much enjoyment and have gained knowledge on many things due to my love of books.
A few years ago I met a boy who was fourteen years old. When we met him, he could barely function in school because he could hardly read at all. Due to his family situation, he lived with my husband and I for about six months, during which time, I started teaching him to read and interact with programs that were set up by his teachers. He had somehow fallen between the cracks. I am pleased to say by the time he returned home he could read at a higher level.
A few months later, our local learning centre was looking for volunteer literary tutors. My success with this boy encouraged me to take a course and volunteer at the centre. I found this most rewarding for several years and hopefully helped some young people along the way until I moved to another town last year.
I cannot stress enough how, learning to read is incredibly important. Without that basic skill, people can be effectively “left behind” in society, which can lead to a struggle for social and financial survival. For some of my students it really changed their lives.
If you know of a child or young adult who is unable to read at an acceptable level (for their age), I advise you to speak with that person or the person’s parents to get literacy help.
To assist you in making your points when explaining literacy’s role in everyday life, here are some facts and thoughts:

Without the ability to read, men and women cannot hope to obtain employment that offers much chance of advancement. Employers of many jobs that are low in terms of pay scale such as a server in a restaurant or a clerk in a retail store, require that the employee knows how to read and write.

Most schools operate on the theory that (when a child reaches a certain age) they will be literate. Those who cannot keep up early in their education may find that they are never able to “catch up” without serious intervention and certainly do fall between the cracks.

Being illiterate may cause embarrassment and contribute to feelings of low self-esteem. Therefore, it can be incredibly difficult for teens and adults to reach out and get the reading help they desperately need even if they want to because of defined notions and stigmas.

Without the skills to read and write, a person could have significant difficulties in day-to-day living. For example, those who are illiterate often have trouble understanding how often to take medicines as well as how much to take at a time. The outcome of such scenario could literally be dangerous.

Being unable to read could push a child away from making friends, in so doing causing him or her to adopt a life of self-generated isolation. Without a peer group, he or she may be uncomfortable in the company of others.

Traveling is very hard for those persons who cannot read or write. This means that an illiterate person may have little opportunity to explore new cultures, thus keeping him or her from experiential learning.

Children who have difficulty reading and/or are told that they are “illiterate” often stop wanting to try to read. Consequently, staying positive is critical to overall success, even if you are a parent who is frustrated by your child’s inability to learn.

Books, magazines, poems and plays have the ability to transport readers to other places and times. However, if a man, woman or youngster is unable partake of this enjoyable pastime, they may be denied the opportunity to travel to faraway places.

Vast studies have found that a high percentage of those who are imprisoned have difficulties reading (or are reading at a very low level for their ages). The strong connection between crime and illiteracy has been well-established, and relapse rates seem to decrease when prisoners attend literacy programs offered by correctional institutions

Reading is so very important for everyone and for many reasons. From a very early age we are encouraged to read. Our parents and teachers start out reading great little stories from the colorfully illustrated pages of a book. The need for the ability to read is bigger than any one can imagine. Although some of the lessons we learn in school will never be used again reading however, is not one of them. We all will all use this skill in our lives. This amazing power of the mind will be exercised daily.

We cannot be taught what to enjoy. That part is very personal and exclusive to each individual. Reading gives us great and never ending authority over our lives.

To obtain more information – please contact the following organizations,

Canadian Literacy and Learning Network
342A Elgin Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1M6

Tel: 613-563-2464
Fax: 613-563-2504


RIF National Headquarters
Reading Is Fundamental
P.O. Box 33728
Washington, DC 20033

202-536-3400, 1-877-RIF-READ or


Professor Owl’s Book Corner

Professor Owl’s Reading Challenge

Welcome, my name is Professor Owl.

On my face, there is never a scowl,

For you see I am a happy bird,

I can make a difference word by word.

I will teach you how to love to read,

And for today that’s my good deed.

In my corner, you will find,

Books and news of every kind.

I challenge you to read five pages a day,

And then you can go out play.

By Sylvia McGrath

Book Of The Month for

September 2012

The Struggle to Be Strong: True Stories by Teens About Overcoming Tough Times [Paperback] by Al Desetta M.A., Sybil Wolin Ph.D. (Editor)

Price: CDN$ 13.33

The stories in “The Struggle to Be Strong” ring with truth and authenticity to which teenagers can relate.

Jamel loses his friends to marijuana; Artiqua dates a boy of another race despite her family’s opposition. Youniqiue was abandoned by her mother; Charlene is raising her brothers and sisters because their mother is addicted to drugs; Craig is gay and worried about coming out.

All of these teens have more than their share of troubles and all, have the resiliency needed to face them, live through them, and move forward with courage, confidence, and hope.

As teens read The Struggle to Be Strong, they discover they are not alone in facing life’s difficulties. They learn about seven resiliencies – insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality – all of which,  everyone needs to survive and thrive in even the toughest times. Vivid, articulate, and candid, this book will motivate readers of all ages to build the skills and strengths they need to triumph over adversity. Ideal for teens, educators, counselors, and youth workers
This book has been used from a classroom with the high school students to a psychiatric day treatment facility. Their therapist also used it in a group with them. No one can speak to our problems like someone who has been there. Their own experiences bring the authority of the teenaged authors of these stories, and their voices speak to other teens who find themselves mired in overwhelming situations.

This book was also given to numerous teenagers, many who stated they disliked reading, yet once they started reading this book they would finish it in a day or two because they could relate and identify themselves to the characters in these stories written by teens  just like them.

A great book for any teenager; a therapeutic book for those with intense needs.

Professor Owl’s Book Recommendations

September 2012

The Year of the Book [Hardcover] by Andrea Cheng (Author), Abigail Halpin (Illustrator)

Price CDN$ 13.86

In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated.
When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world.
Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.

The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon: A Kids Book about How a Pigeon with Dyslexia Discovers That Learning Difficulties Are Not Learning Disabilities [Paperback]  by Don M. Winn (Author) and Dave Allred (Illustrator)

Price: CDN$ 8.11

The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon is about a young homing pigeon named Hank who is an eager new student in flight school. He does an outstanding job in school until the day of his first practice delivery, when he unexpectedly discovers that he has no sense of direction and that he will get lost every time he is sent on a mission. He is devastated…is this the end of his dreams? Nobody else in class has this problem! It’s so easy for them not to get lost. Maybe he should just quit. But a kind teacher shows him how he can compensate for his problem and still succeed. This story is about how everyone learns in different ways, and how anyone can succeed ¬– even despite a learning problem – with the right kind of help and effort! Also, the Subject Codes don’t properly reflect the type of book. It’s currently listed as “Juvenile Fiction” when it should be categorized as a “Children’s Picture Book” or whatever Subject Code(s) would best describe this type of book.

School of Fear: The Final Exam [Paperback] by Gitty Daneshvari (Author)

Price:CDN$ 7.44

Will be released on September 11, 2012.
Pre-order via

Is school out forever at the School of Fear? A nosy reporter is planning a scandalous exposé on eccentric Mrs. Wellington and her unorthodox teaching methods, and the news is sure to put an end to the school. Madeleine, Theo, Lulu, Garrison, and the new student Hyacinth must convince the reporter that their teacher and the school are perfectly normal. But how can they accomplish this when Mrs. Wellington is just so… odd?

With the fate of their beloved school in their hands, the children now share a new fear–failure.

Richard Scarry’s ABC Word Book [Hardcover] by Richard Scarry (Author)


CDN$ 10.79

The antics in this book will keep children entertained for hours. It is suitable for children aged 4 to 7 years old. The antics in Richard Scarry’s “ABC Word Book” begin with Mother Cat causing confusion on her way to the airport and continue with Curly Pig crashing into a cake jugglers juggling jars of jam and dizzy izzy Lizard zigzagging. There’s enough wacky action to entertain children for hours and unlike many “ABC” books, this one highlights featured letters wherever they appear in a word, not just in the beginning.

Smiley Book


Calling all budding book reviewers! Have you read a book recently that you think Professor Owl would enjoy?Please send in your reviews! Be sure to include the complete title of the book and the author’s name so that we can give proper credit! 🙂

Variety Village Logo

Variety Village News

September 2012


Sunday, October 28, 2012
(Rain or Shine)
9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Join us on Sunday, October 28 for our 6th annual
Walk Roll Run and Fun Fall Fair in support of
Variety Village programs.
The walk/roll/run starts at 9:00 am. The Fun Fall Fair starts immediately following in the fieldhouse for the participants and is open to the public from 11:00 am.

Registration will be open at 7:00 am.
(for more details

Event details

Suzanne Cuff on Giving Back
[Nov 28,2011]
By Chelsey Donohue

Many of us have places we frequent and organizations we benefit from when we’re young. Suzanne Cuff is no different in that regard, spending much of her childhood years at Variety Village in Scarborough, Ontario. What’s unique about her story is the fact that she’s given back to this organization time and time again in the ensuing years.

Variety Village is an inclusive fitness, sports, and life skills facility that offers programs and services to all people, regardless of their abilities. Through specialized programs and services, they create a level playing field without barriers, intimidation or other obstacles. Their multitude of activities are intended for toddlers right up to senior citizens and cater to all needs. Variety Village offers a place that is accessible to everyone to get fit and have fun.

Suzanne, a Senior Program Officer with the Reintegration Programs Division, was introduced to Variety Village as a child through a summer camp and she has stayed involved ever since. Since her initial introduction, Suzanne has been both a member and Assistant Coach of Variety Village’s track

and field team, as well as a camp counsellor. She also volunteers at Variety Village’s special events, whenever she has the chance, while home in Toronto.

In addition, for the last four years Suzanne has participated in Variety Village’s Walk Roll Run. This event has seen constant growth in participation, and now hundreds of people turn up to participate, donate, and show their support.

For the Walk Roll Run, participants choose whether they would li

ke to complete a 1k or 5k course that runs through the area of Scarborough that surrounds Variety Village. There’s a registration fee, and participants solicit sponsors. Sponsors can donate in person or online through a general donation to the cause or by sponsoring a specific person. Participants can keep track of donations they receive online through Variety Village’s website and some compete to see who can raise the most money.

In the four years that Suzanne has been a participant in the Walk Roll Run event, she has made it onto the top ten list of fundraisers three times; quite a feat when you consider that there a

re hundreds of other people also raising money. Even more impressive, for this year’s event, which took place on October 30th, Suzanne not only finished the 5k, she was also ranked fifth highest fundraiser.

“It always surprises me how generous people are, especially since it’s [Variety Village] not a commonly thought of charity,” says Suzanne.

Suzanne says she’s compelled to give back because Variety Village has done so much for her and others. She also describes how rewarding her experience at Variety Village has been: “I have had the opportunity to work with all sorts of children with varying abilities and needs at Variety Village. There is nothing more amazing than seeing a child who has come in with limited abilities and over time, through a lot of hard work, develops an independence that motivates them to try what you put in front of them. Variety Village has been a big part of my life and the support staff members have provided me over the years is so appreciated.”

Variety Village has also partnered with many community colleges in the hopes of providing additional support to their clients while educating the general public about their initiatives and the issues their clients face.

Join Variety Village on facebook!/pages/V


Paralympics London 2012

Paralympics London 2012 Wheelchair Basketball update! We are really rockin’ it!

· Lynda Elmy
Awesome and inspiring interview with our Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team on CBC News last night. The interview starts at 34minutes into the newscast. You can fast forward! Enjoy! Men play Australia tomorrow for GOLD at 4:15 pm EST (9:15 pm BST)!

LONDON) The Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team opened their London 2012 Paralympic Games with a 68-53 win over Japan. Patrick Anderson, Fergus, Ontario, led the charge scoring all of Canada’s 16 points in the first quarter as part of an impressive 29 point half, in which he scored the first 23 points for Canada.
For more information and game schedules for the men’s and women’s Wheelchair Basketball Games visit the Variety Village website at

For more information or to make a donation, contact us at Variety Village
3701 Danforth Ave.
Scarborough, ON M1N 2G2
P: 416.699.7167 x 249
F: 416.699-4845

Bradley’s Wish

Hello Make-A-Wish®,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity for our family to go to Maui, Hawaii.

We can’t thank all of you enough for the flights, car rental, hotel, spending money and the plantation tour. It was a lot of time, work and effort to put it all together for us and it’s so appreciated.

Everyone was so friendly and the scenery in Hawaii is just awesome. We just got back home last night, after a long night and day of travel, and are trying to get accustomed to the time change again. (Maui is 6 hours behind us!) I just uploaded our pictures to our home computer…about 400!! (this does not include the almost 300 Bradley got on his camera!) We knew it would be a trip of a lifetime for us so we did not mind taking lots and lots of pictures.

We tried to do something on the ‘must see/do’ list every day that we were there but there is just so much that you could not fit it all in! Some of the highlights of our week were the Maui Tropical plantation tour, seeing the Sunrise from the top of the Haleakala volcanic crater, the trip known as ‘the drive to Hana’, visiting IAO national park, Lewis’s surfing lessons and Bradley’s paddle boarding lessons on the beach, the authentic Wailele Polynesian Luau, swimming in the ocean and exploring the island. We also found some good restaurants and little places to shop. The hotel was beautiful!!

It was an amazing trip that we will always remember. Thanks again for making Bradley’s wish come true!! You guys are amazing!

Gratefully yours,
Mieke, Greg, Bradley and Lewis! 🙂

For information about Make-A-Wish® Canada please contact them at

Make-A-Wish® Canada
4211 Yonge Street, Suite 520
Toronto, Ontario M2P 2A9

Phone Number:
Toll Free: 1-888-822-9474
General Email: nationaloffice@makeawish.ca

Conferences & Events

March of Dimes News

September 2012

Conferences & Events

To raise money to support our services for adults and children with disabilities across the country, we host numerous events throughout the year. From corporate band competitions to golf tournaments, there are many different exciting events you can participate in.

Have some fun while making a difference!
With events happening throughout the year, please check back to this page for updates to our activities.

Support and Share the events, programs and services of March of Dimes Canada

Event: Date: City:
Aphasia Camp September 14-16, 2012 St. George, ON
Living with a Disability Conference September 25, 2012 Moncton, NB
Living with a Disability Conference September 27, 2012 Saint John, NB
employABILITY September 27, 2012 Thornhill, ON
3rd Annual Stems of Hope Gala September 29, 2012 Toronto,ON
or more information on the above events contact

We’re thrilled that our Conductive Education program will be benefiting from THREE TO BE’s 3rd Annual Stems of Hope Gala: Heroes Among Us taking place on Sat. Sept. 29 at Koolhaus. Check out this amazing line-up of performers:

For more information contact us at


THREE TO BE’s mission is to advocate and raise funds to support and advance the development of innovative research, education and therapies for children with neurological disorders.

THREE TO BE Is a registered charitable foundation providing funds to support a multidisciplinary approach for children with neurological conditions. THREE TO BE’s funds are being used to:

1. Support the neurological research community by funding salaries, grants, and prizes to develop cutting-edge therapies and treatments for children

2. Purchase innovative therapeutic equipment for rehabilitative purposes

3. Support educational programs, conferences, and facilities that focus on the development of children with disabilities

4. Develop a parent resource and information platform to support families of children with neurological disorders

THREE TO BE FOUNDATION shared Jared Florence‘s photo.

THREE TO BE is proud to present HEROES OF HIP HOP…Featuring Naughty By Nature, Young MC, Rob Base & Rappers Delight with Master G & Wonder Mike from the original Sugarhill Gang!

Tickets are over 60% sold out so get them here while you can




One thought on “Professor Owl’s September 2012 Newsletter

  1. Pingback: Professor Owl’s September 2012 Newsletter | Welcome…

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