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Raise-a-Reader: Gaby and Jose Santos overcome hardship through learning together

By Vancouver Sun |

Jose Santos credits the Vancouver Canucks with helping him learn to read.

At four, Jose’s mother Gaby enrolled him in Get Ready 2 Read (GR2R), a Canucks Family Education Centre program at Britannia Elementary School. As part of GR2R, various Canucks would read to the kids.

Jose found this very inspiring.

“To see a hockey player who has been so successful in life and to be able to use that person as a role model really encouraged me and others to read and learn and appreciate reading,” he said.

The CFEC also helped Gaby Santos. Through the organization, she took high school upgrading classes taught by VSB teachers.

“I took classes to learn English,” she said. “I didn’t have money at the time, and they provided me with food vouchers and bus tickets and connected me to other programs. I was able to graduate from high school.”

While Gaby and her fellow adult learners attended classes, CFEC looked after Jose and the rest of their kids in a separate room.

“I was happy because I knew my son as in a safe place and he was able to learn and meet other children,” said Gaby, who came to Canada from Mexico City in 2002.

Gaby has since graduated with her B.C. high school diploma and finished an Early Childhood Education Assistant program through a partnership with the Native Education College and CFEC.

Later, in elementary school, Jose struggled with reading and writing.

“It was clear when he got into the school system that he had some learning disabilities,” said Jean Rasmussen, founder and executive director of CFEC.

“We helped Gaby understand that he needed to be assessed, and he got the help he needed because he was diagnosed.”

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