Staff Sgt. Darren Traichevich, commander of the Dawson Creek detachment, was pleased to present a cheque for $8,131 to Gloria Cleve, early learning project manager for the Peace River South School District, on behalf of the RCMP Foundation, an organization that provides grants for community initiatives supported by local members. Traichevich said when he was approached by Cleve about supporting the grant application, it was easy to see the benefits for the community and for his detachment.

“I just thought it was a great community initiative, and an initiative that members could use,” he said. “That’s what we based part of our support on, that this bus is available the entire community. We have a detachment of 30 members and they have young families …and if the bus is available for their use, definitely the members are aware of it and will hopefully get some use out of it as well.”

Cleve said the money will be used to restock the bus with books, educational toys and resources for parents. She added beyond the funding, which is needed, the donation also represents an opportunity to get local police officers who are parents involved with the WOW Bus, and hopefully foster a relationship between local members and the youth of the community that will last into the future.

The WOW Bus was a project initiated by the South Peace Building Learning Together (BLT) Society – an association of different stakeholders involved in early childhood education – as a way to address vulnerabilities that were identified in the region’s preschool population in regards to literacy and preparedness for school. The bus offers activities and games for children, from newborns to five-year-olds, and free resources for families, all with the aim of promoting family literacy. It stops in community centres and neighbourhoods not only in Dawson Creek, but also in Pouce Coupe, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, and the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations.

Some of the activities offered on the WOW Bus include the “Kiwanis Buddies” program, where members of the Kiwanis Club of Dawson Creek come onboard to read to children, and the “Rotary Book Club,” where families take a book home to read and then return to take part in activities centred around that particular book. Last year, the WOW Bus created a cookbook for parents called “Healthy Meals from Words on Wheels.”

Cleve said following some engine problems with the bus back in May, a major overhaul of the bus was done to ensure it remains road-worthy.

“That bill came to just over $5,000, and it was huge hit to the WOW Bus budget, so we are still looking for support for the WOW bus,” she said. “We have enough money to keep the WOW bus on the road for this (school) year, and hopefully we will get money for many more years to come.”

A schedule of where the WOW Bus will stop throughout the rest of this month has been included below. For more information, call 250-219-2416 or go online to Volunteer bus drivers and “bus buddies” are needed for community events, and anyone interested is encouraged to call the number above.