Things are looking up! The days are getting longer, spring weather is finally making an appearance, and there has been significant expansion in the roll out of the vaccine in communities across the province.
At Easter Seals, our first Spring Break camp session was a big success with 120 campers joining in the fun. Our virtual camp is an opportunity for campers to connect friends, build confidence, self-esteem and challenge themselves by participating in new activities. It also promotes strong mental health and well-being in what has been a period of prolonged isolation. For a glimpse of some of our campers in action, check out this video.
The Ontario Camping Association recognized the outstanding development of our virtual camp program in April when they honoured our very own Ben Mandigo with their Ron & Mickey Johnstone Youth Leadership Award. Ben has been a counsellor at Camp Merrywood for several years and last summer was the mastermind behind the development of Camp E-aster Seals. Although Ben is a full-time university student, we are very fortunate that he has continued to work part-time with us and remains a large part of the program’s success. Congratulations Ben, we are very proud of you!
Our usual fundraising initiatives during the first part of the year have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, but the pandemic has not deterred our staff and volunteers from digging in and coming up with adapted or virtual versions.
The Rotary Club of Kingston, volunteers and donors rallied around our March is Easter Seals Month campaign and raised an astounding $60,000+ to benefit children and families.
Our annual Paper Egg campaign took place on a much smaller scale due to COVID-19, but we are deeply grateful for the involvement of all participating retailers. We also want to thank Sobeys for their generous corporate donation to the campaign.
We were not able to hold Telethons in Toronto or Sudbury this year; however, the teams in Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie got creative and adapted their formats to ensure the show went on. A huge thanks to the crews, volunteers, sponsors, and donors for successfully raising over $100,000 in Windsor and over $72,000 in Sault Ste. Marie! We are looking forward to our annual Peterborough Telethon as well as a new version of the Kingston Telethon, which will both take place in June.
We are also grateful to everyone who contributed to our spring mail campaign, featuring our annual seals designed by our campers.
This past year has not been easy for anyone, but the prolonged lockdown has severely limited access for children who are most vulnerable. In the first three months of the year, we have received over 330 requests for equipment funding totalling $600,000.
Not only are the children we serve in desperate need of mobility and accessibility equipment to be able to move around their homes or use the washroom, without contact with their friends or the ability to participate in social activities, they are also at risk for increased anxiety and depression.
Your support makes a difference for Easter Seals children on so many levels, helping to provide equipment, like walkers and commodes, as well as remote camp programming that offers them fun and social connection from the safety of their homes. If you haven’t already made a donation, please make a gift today.
Please continue to stay safe and take every precaution to stop the spread.
Kevin J. Collins
President & CEO