OPINION: Squamish is Dolly Parton country

It is often surprising where reporting takes you.

The job of a journalist is a bit like being a guest at a smörgåsbord.  You approach, planning to stick to the plan of only eating from the salad bar (the story) but then end up trying chocolate-dipped watermelon — and becoming obsessed with the new taste. (OK, maybe my food proclivities are a bit odd, but you get my point.)

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Recently, an interview about the local childcare situation in Squamish led down a rabbit hole of Dolly Parton songs and biographies.

Who would have thunk that there’s a direct connection between the wig-wearing, country crooner and the outdoor adventure world of Squamish?

But there really is.

Since 2017, Sea to Sky Community Services has had a partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

With the Parton program, a child receives a free book every month until they turn five years old.

Turns out, like the local organization, Parton has a passion for early literacy.

The program runs in several countries, including  Australia,  Ireland, the U.K, and of course the U.S, where she launched it in 1995.

 As of data from 2016, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library was sending out one million books a month — a month!

Through the locally-based Supporting Parents on the Road to Kindergarten (SPARK) — a Sea to Sky Community Services program for children up to five years old — every parent receives a free book.

How cool is that?

In 2018, 5,760 books were sent to children in the Sea to Sky Corridor.

For 2019, the goal is to reach 600 families — a lofty goal that will require a local sponsor.

In this screen-obsessed world, sitting and being read to is often an easily forgotten, but vital part of parenting that determines a child’s development.

“Reading aloud is the single most important thing we can do to support a child’s literacy development,” Jaye Russell, executive director of Sea to Sky Community Services told The Chief.

Indeed.

For more on our local program, go to www.sscs.ca/programs/spark/.

For more on the Dolly Parton program in Canada, go to imaginationlibrary.com/ca/

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