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Adult Education Month

8 September 2017
Events News

This Sept. 8 marked International Literacy Day. It was also the one-year anniversary of the former Mayor’s Commission on Literacy changing its
name to the Office of Adult Education.

To mark the anniversary and bring awareness to adult education, Mayor Kenney proclaimed September as PHL Adult Education Month. A calendar, which featured over 20 free events highlighting Philadelphia’s adult education learners and their families was also unveiled.

The City of Philadelphia was joined by OAE’s community partners, volunteers and residents to celebrate the day with cake and refreshments.

“We cannot forget about individuals who are no longer of school age and are looking to continue their education,” said Mayor Kenney.

The highlight of the day came from Wanda Steward, a Philadelphia mom, who shared her educational journey.

Illiterate in her early motherhood, Wanda struggled to read bedtime stories to her children when they were young. Using her imagination, she made up her own tales to match the illustrations and created a recurring character called PongPong the Brave. “I used Pong-Pong to help teach my kids to be brave, we were going through a hard time and I made up Pong-Pong to help teach my kids to be brave,”

Wanda explains. Wanda took a brave step of her own over a year ago when she reached out to a stranger on the bus for help. “I was desperate, I was working with hazardous chemicals at my job and was unable to read safety material. I knew it was time that I learned to read,” Wanda explains. That’s when she learned about free adult education classes available through OAE’s myPLACE℠  program, a network of over 30 adult education providers where residents can enroll in classes to help them achieve their goals.


Today, thanks to support from her tutor JoAnn Fishburn at Adults Can Learn to Read, an adult education partner of OAE, Wanda had some big news. She has authored her very own children’s book, just a year and half after she started learning to read and write.

 Featuring a foreword from actor and activist, Idris Elba, the book, “The Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong, is a spin on the classic children’s character “Chicken Little” using Wanda’s own original interpretation. Celebrities and activists, including Chelsea Clinton and Gillian Anderson have also joined in to spread the word.
“Story time has always been one of the most magical and treasured parts of the day for me to connect with my children, but it’s something that millions of parents across the US who struggle with their reading are missing out on.However, more alarmingly, it means tasks most people take for granted
become impossible, from not being able to read the label on a medicine bottle to not being able to vote,” said Idris Elba, a Project Literacy Ambassador.

“Sadly, this is an issue that is passed on from generation to generation, a cycle that we want to break. Through sharing Wanda’s inspiring journey, we want to help others understand the importance of investing in adult literacy, which is why we’re encouraging as many people as possible to support us
by reading Wanda’s story.”

With 32 million American adults who can’t read or write, OAE has partnered with the Project Literacy Campaign, to promote adult literacy. Project Literacy is a global campaign founded by learning company, Pearson, and made up of over 100 organizations dedicated to achieving literacy for
all by 2030.

Download your FREE eBook

Almost one billion adults worldwide do not have basic reading and writing skills. Please join us in helping rewrite their lives by reading and sharing the story – ‘A Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong.’ It’s a fresh retelling of the classic story ‘Chicken Little’, with a twist – it has been rewritten by Wanda Steward, who has spent the last year learning to read and write for the first time.


 >>> Download Book

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