Be on the lookout for a bright blue bus on the streets of Parksville Qualicum Beach beginning next week.
The third Words on Wheels (WOW) Bus will be unveiled to the public in a launch party Dec. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. at Storybook Village in Qualicum Beach. The following day, Dec. 7, the bus will be back on the road delivering early learning programs to the community.
Heidi Abbott, Oceanside Building Learning Together (BLT) communications co-ordinator, said BLT retired WOW Bus 2 in June, and received the third bus from School District 69 (Qualicum) over the summer.
Abbott said volunteers just recently finished work on the new bus, refurbishing it for BLT.
The volunteers, Abbott said, did everything from electrical work to carpentry to laying floors and trim. She said there was huge community support with the donation of supplies.
“It’s always been this way with BLT and projects like the WOW Bus and Storybook Village. The community sort of rallies around and gives us what we need,” Abbott said.
Initially, the organization was looking to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 for the new bus. With two barn dances and plenty of sponsorship, Abbott said, it was able to reach its goal.
“It was really wonderful because when we started, we were looking at potentially needing $30,000 plus to do this, and a bit worried if we’re going to be able to do this,” Abbott said. “When these large sponsors came on board, that really made the difference and kind of pushed us over the edge and we were able to do it.”
She said Terminal Autobody in Parksville painted the bus blue and the Young Professionals of Oceanside helped to clean out the bus before it was painted.
BLT put a call out to artists asking to submit their paintings in a chance to be included on the side of the bus. The winning piece was Peggy Schollenberg’s painting Family, Abbott said.
“(Schollenberg’s) painting was gorgeous and it’s called Family and it’s a pair of geese — male and female — and then a bunch of goslings on the beach with driftwood,” Abbott said.
Abbott said BLT received three submissions for the bus, and the group tests out the designs with the children.
“The children loved her painting the most, so we chose that one.”
The reason for the goose design, Abbott said, is the program run on the bus, Mother Goose program, a five-week session in which children can build literacy skills through songs and stories.
“(The design) has always been sort of centred around that, and the previous bus had a cartoon character goose on it,” she said.
As of Tuesday morning (Nov. 28), Abbott said, the bus was in Coombs having the decals with the painting put on the bus’ exterior.
For more infomation on the WOW Bus, visit www.oblt.ca/programs/wow-bus/.