Red Deer Alberta Rotary Supporting Literacy In Belize, in San Ignacio, Volunteers





DREAM IT  an DO IT!  If you can stay in school and obtain a high school diploma many doors will open for your future but young students need to Dream this possibility and Do what they can to make graduation a reality.  This was the project slogan for Literacy Alive 4 – a Rotary International Global Grant project that took place in Belize, Central America in  March 2018.  The overall goal of the project was to improve literacy for children and adults through a collaborative venture between the Rotary Club of Red Deer, Alberta Canada and the San Ignacio, Belize Rotary Club.

Over 350 children participated in the very successful CAMP and approximately 100 Belize adults participated in training activities.  Literacy awareness was strengthened in the community through public celebrations and recognition events including a Literacy Alive Parade and a  song and dance public performance on the topic of ‘Dream and Do It’ .  Thousands of literacy rich resources were distributed to students, adult participants, schools and libraries.  The successes of the project exceeded the expectations of the planning team.  More info on project website:

A fitting slogan for the ever present message recurring throughout the camp…..’you can aspire to be whatever you want by working hard in school. ‘Literacy, being the focus of the four day camp brought elements of excitement, enthusiasm and most importantly belief in the hope of dreams becoming true. The theme song for the project captures the key message for children of the program:


       This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine  (3X)
       Let it shine, shine, shine, let it shine.
       I’m gonna stay in school cuz learning things is cool (3X)
       Stay in school, stay in school, stay in school.
       I’m gonna dream big dreams, I’m gonna let them shine  (3X)
       Let them shine, shine, shine, let them shine.
       I’m gonna to DO IT --- YES!  I’m gonna shine in school (3X)
       Shine in school, shine in school, shine in school
       I’m gonna give my BEST, I’m gonna let ME SHINE (3X)
       I will shine, shine shine, I will shine.
       This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine (3X) 
       Let it shine, shine, shine, let it shine (2X)

  The planning team for the project included leaders from the Ministry of Education in Cayo, Belize, the Belize Library Association and teacher leaders from Canada and Belize.   A Vocational Training Team of 20 Canadian literacy educational experts and community developers provided a series of program opportunities in Belize.  Focused professional development was provided for teachers from selected schools in the Cayo region and to community librarians from across all districts in Belize.  Following the professional development was a four day Literacy CAMP for students in Standards 4,5, and 6 (aged 10- 14 years).  Cohorts of Belize teachers, librarians, parents and community volunteers were provided modeling and coaching on rich literacy strategies which were provided for the students in the CAMP program.

The teaching cohorts included: a) over 50 Belize educators from the Ministry of Education and 13 selected schools, c) over 25 parents and volunteers from the community,  d) 18 district community librarians.  Other participants included Rotary members, Rotaractors, student teachers from Sacred Heart College,  visiting university students from the Centre of Engaged Learning Abroad (USA) and youth completing community service hours as part of college and high school expectations.


Teachers from 13 schools identified by the Cayo Ministry of Education identified teachers, students, parents and volunteers from the community who were interested in literacy education.  The Belize National Library Service identified community librarians from sixteen librarians across the country to participate in the program. In week one of the program a series of quality professional development activities was provided where Canadian literacy leaders provided all interested adults with teaching and learning strategies for literacy.  The focus of the literacy teaching was directed to a variety of target groups including:  a) school age children   b) pre school children  c) parents of young children  d) adult literacy   e) English second language support   f) community based outreach literacy programs.

In the second week of the program a Literacy Reading and Adventure Camp was hosted on the Sacred Heart College Campus in town of San Ignacio.  Over the span of a week Canadians led Belize cohorts of adults (teachers, librarians, parents, volunteers) in the delivery of a series of literacy learning activities for over 350  students in Standard 4, 5 and 6 (ages 10 – 14).  Focus areas of learning included strategies to improve student and teacher success in a)  reading and comprehension,  b) writing c) assessment of literacy levels and d) quality physical education and adventure activities.

The program closing ceremonies included a Literacy Alive Parade where over 500 individuals carrying balloons,  Belize, Canadian flags and Rotary flags paraded to the town square for a public performance celebrating literacy.  Led by a Flag honor guard and a traditional Garifuna drumming troupe children joyfully marched through the streets exclaiming the project theme --- I Can Dream It and Do It.  A public performance of the theme song was shared with hundreds of spectators gathered to the square.  Following completion of the program each child received a Literacy Loot Bag including a project t shirt, a library card valid for three years, an age appropriate book and various school supplies.

All Belize adults who completed participation in the program attended a Rotary sponsored evening celebration where certificates of completion were awarded, gift certificates to a local office/resource supply store supplied, local entertainment was featured and thousands of dollars of literacy teaching supplies were distributed for use in local schools and community libraries.  Sixteen libraries received Literacy Camp Survival Kits to support future locally developed literacy support programs.  All teachers received Teacher Literacy Kits with a variety of literacy teaching resources.


    All project goals in the following areas were achieved:

  • Training and mentorship for educators
  • Training and mentorship for community librarians
  • Student learning
  • Student motivation to complete basic education
  • Community engagement to support literacy
  • Literacy support resources distributed to schools and libraries
  • Strategies to support schools and libraries working together on literacy programs
  • Encouragement of libraries to expand literacy support programs
  • Increases each day in CAMP enrollment
  • Increases each day in mothers and pre school children observing and participating
  • Scholarship support for aspiring students
  • DREAM IT an DO IT THEME  evident in discussions in local communities
  • Participation far exceeded those registered for program involvement
  • Engagement of Belize musicians (Traditional Garifuna drummers leading parade,  Cayo Disc jockey entertainment, professional guitar and song leader)
  • Local composition of a project  theme song
  • Project contributions (cash, gifts and special discounts) from Belize businesses and organizations.

Approximately 30 large suitcases of  teaching and library resources allocated to 116 libraries and teachers from 13 Cayo district schools.

Over 10,000 dollars in guided reading classroom libraries provided for the  Ministry of Education for use by member schools


              The planning team established a priority to support local businesses and service organizations as much as possible.  Supplies for all camp activities  were purchased locally. Services were purchased from local Belize organizations.

  • Opening celebration
  • Literacy Alive Parade
  • Dream It and Do It public performance
  • Program Completion Certificates awarded to over 50 Belize adult literacy champions
  • Program brochures
  • Business cards
  • Camp Dream It and Do It T- Shirts
  • Canadian Red Shirt Team uniform
  • Literacy Alive 4 Website
  • Belize library Facebook pages
  • Local Belize media
  • You Tube video of project song –This Light of Mine Will Shine
  • Creation of a project web page

Ten members of the Voluntravel team provided additional support to the Vocational Training Team by assisting with CAMP activities and in completion of much needed renovations to the San Ignacio Library.  This included planning for the demolition of decaying and faulty parts of the library deck, planning for construction and purchase of all building materials. Resulting was the replacement of deck planking where needed,   building of  a new railing and construction of a new set of stairs.  The result is that additional, safe  library space was created, overlooking the Macau river where citizens can enjoy safe use of a large deck.


Considerable feedback was obtained from all participants to inform future projects. Feedback for all dimensions of the project were very positive and  encouraged organizers to consider expansion of the project.   The evaluation data was collected through:

  • Focus groups with students and parents
  • Teachers and librarians survey instrument
  • Vocational training team survey instrument
  • Voluntravel team survey instrument
  • Debriefing with Ministry of Education of Belize
  1. TESTIMONIALS FROM PARTICIPANTS  ( more available on request)

-great way to help us improve literacy with our students

-so happy to be part of the literacy teaching team

-children enjoyed the camp a great deal

-looking forward to more involvement in August

-Canadians are very good at motivating us

-Thanks, thank you, thank – a wonderful journey in learning about literacy

 -great organization

-everything was perfect

-want more classes and more days

-keep teaching us every day

-looking forward to coming next year

-big thank you to leaders and Canadian organizers

-very educational

-well planned and executed

-appreciated that librarians from across Belize were involved

-everyone worked as a team

-methods were made easy and students enjoyed them

-made me want to become a teacher

-I was mesmerized by the program and want to be involved in future programs

-camp was fantastic

-experience was ‘one in a million’

-I learned a lot

-it was interesting, educational and exceptional

Greetings from Cayo District Education Center!

 I take this opportunity to thank You and your team in providing much needed Literacy in our district.

I can proudly say that your input on Literacy Alive 4 is much appreciate and that you touched and impacted in some way or the other approximately three hundred and fifty students (350) from 13 different schools along with about thirty (30) Belizean teachers.

 This Literacy Alive 4 was a great success as the Theme "Dream It and Do It" was expressed throughout the four days of the camp. Moreover; as I interviewed students who participated they freely and with joy in their faces expressed how they had learned so much and  felt confident that they can really dream and make it happen!

 To add to the success was the wealth of knowledge shared by your Literacy experts providing coaching and mentorship by modeling the different activities to our Belizean teachers. During this time great friendships were also developed among the Canadian Team; Librarians and our Belizean teachers -  something that will never be forgotten!  For this and much more I want to thank you!

We from the Ministry of Education will ensure that whatever was taught during those 5 days of PD will be used to enhance Literacy to other students by ensuring that we monitor and support the teachers in their classrooms while doing supervision.

 Again, words cannot express how grateful we are for all that you and your dynamic team did for our students, teachers and parents. THANKS A MILLION!


A follow up Vocational Training Team will return to Belize in August 2018. They will provide follow up professional development to teachers and  librarians.  They will also provide support for summer literacy programs  offered throughout Belize.  Data on the impact of the Literacy Alive 4 project will be collected and plans for future local and international programs will be  explored.