Muskoka Novel Marathon helps adults improve literacy skills, and better their job prospects


A group of 40 writers have pledged to spend all weekend at the Active Living Centre for a good cause. The annual Muskoka Novel Marathon, held this year from July 13-16, not only gives writers the chance to complete a manuscript that could be read by a publisher, it raises funds for adult literacy programs in our community.

Ever since the event’s inception in 2002, YMCA Literacy Services (formerly the Muskoka Literacy Council) has been the recipient of the more than $170,000 raised by the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s writers.

“These funds are used to directly support literacy programs in our community,” said the Y’s program coordinator of literary services, Rebecca Smith. “Over the years, we have used the funds for things such as upgrading our computer equipment for learners, books and classroom supplies, supporting our volunteer instructors to provide more in-class time with students, and curriculum development for new programs based on community needs.”

Even though tech is on the forefront of learning in today’s society, 42 per cent of Ontarians still do not have the literacy skills they need for home and work. This is where the education provided by YMCA Literacy Services can help better the lives of many individuals in Muskoka.

“The program serves adults who want to improve their literacy and numeracy skills to achieve their goals of post-secondary education and training, employment, apprenticeship, secondary school credit or independence. The LBS (Literacy and Basic Skills) program is part of Employment Ontario,” said Smith.

Tina, who requested we not include her last name, has recently left her job, hoping to gain the skills at the YMCA to pursue a new career path in the future.

“The classes at the YMCA are important to help people build or rebuild confidence in themselves,” said Tina. “People who walk through those doors enter the YMCA feeling weak in some aspect of their life. The great staff at our YMCA greeted me, explaining both the employment and learning services that were available to me. It could not be stressed enough that they were there to help at the pace I wanted or needed. You don’t know what a gem of resources we have at the YMCA until you walk through those doors.”

Tina is currently enrolled in both Computer Basics and Personality Dimensions which gives learners better insight into themselves and how people work together.

The YMCA offers training in an abundance of skills including cash handling, smartphone use, how to email, computer safety and privacy, how to navigate Microsoft Word, how to use Microsoft Excel, an introduction to Microsoft Power Point and they even offer an ESL (English as a Second Language) course.

“Newcomers to Muskoka are welcome to take English classes at the YMCA Huntsville location!” said Smith, “Classes are offered at the beginner and intermediate levels to ensure newcomers are getting the level of English they need to start at to be able to get comfortable conversing in the community they are now living in. Training happens in a small classroom setting. Classes are ongoing.”

Stay tuned for this year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon fundraising total—a preliminary amount will be announced this weekend with the final total, along with the manuscript winners, to be announced in the fall. This year’s winning adult manuscript will be read by Stephanie Small at The Porcupine’s Quill; the winning young adult manuscript will be read by an editor at Blue Moon Publishers.

For more information on the Muskoka Novel Marathon, visit where you can also make a donation. Information on the programs offered by YMCA Literacy Services can be found here.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article, Sydney, explaining how the funds we raise are used and how they benefit people in the community and the community itself. I’m suggesting on Facebook that our writers cite it for fundraising purposes 🙂

    – Karen Wehrstein, MNM 2018 Convenor

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