November 19, 2011
I focused on the next hydro pole and forced one foot in front of the other. Hours stretched into days, which stretched into weeks, as I walked on my quest for reading.
I am Boszenna Nowicki, a children’s author from Mississauga. When I noticed that many people do not read to their children, the slogan “Read to Me, Daddy” became the basis for my quest. On August 4, 2011, I headed out from Mississauga with a focus to walk all the way to Ottawa.
I believe that children benefit from having their parents read to them and/or learning to read to their parents. Encouraging everyone to read every day to their children kept me going when a motel on the highway was closed and the next one was another 10km down the road. I had already walked 27km and now was forced to keep going.
I walked on my own. No support car or other walkers accompanied me. I was determined to do the walk even though one friend ended up on vacation and other friends could not get the time off of work. It did not matter: I was going to walk.
During my walk, I carried a banner that showed off the website, www.catsarerascals.com, on one side and “Walk to Prime Minister Harper” on the other side. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Harper was not in Ottawa the day that I arrived at Parliament Hill. My idea was to present a book to him since he is “father of Canada.”
Blisters and a bruised heel were my main challenges, but a couple of easy days and I was back on the road, walking over 20km a day. By the end of August, I was able to walk onto the grounds at Parliament Hill.
One dad, who I talked to during a coffee break at Tim Horton’s, said, “My wife always reads to the kids, so I had not worried about getting a turn. I will make sure that a couple of nights a week that I read to my children.” Another dad, Frank, bought a complete set of books on the spot so he could read to his children in Toronto.
Near the small town of Welcome, after walking 30km, tired and dirty with sweat, I stopped and asked how far to any motel, hotel, or inn. A thunderstorm was approaching quickly and I did not want to spend the night in a corn field. Near the road were three children, around the ages of 10, 7, and 5 years old, playing in their yard. They told me it was only 1km to the motel, and then they asked me why I was walking. When I told them my message, “Read to Me Daddy,” the kids smiled. The oldest one said, “Cool, I will tell my dad to read me books,” and with enthusiasm all the kids ran back home.
Some friends think I am crazy, but only days after completing my walk from Mississauga to Ottawa, I started talking about a future walk to encourage more people to read to their children. I want to do another Quest for Reading, maybe west this time.
Happy to have at least reached Ottawa as I had set out to do, I celebrated with friends at the Wildberry Restaurant in Mississauga, sharing stories from the adventure. A book that includes some of the trip to Ottawa has been started.
Boszenna Nowicki walked all the way to Ottawa with her important message