Over the past 100 years, donors like you have made a tremendous difference in the lives of kids with disabilities through your support of Easter Seals Ontario. You share in our belief that disabled will never mean unable. You act on this belief with your continued generosity. You also share in our dedication to helping children and youth with physical disabilities carve their own path into the world with assurance and autonomy. With the right resources and support, anything is possible.
We acknowledge that these last few years have been hard on all of us in different ways. They have been especially hard on kids with physical disabilities. The isolation and loneliness kids with disabilities often feel was magnified by pandemic lockdowns and school closures. The accessibility and mobility equipment that allowed kids to get outside to play during this time meant more to them than ever. Your gifts meant more kids were able to get the support they needed.
The reopening of Easter Seals camps this summer marked a return to life as we previously knew it. For many kids, it was a sign that they had made it through the worst of the pandemic and could begin to safely gather with friends and play like they used to. You could see the looks of sheer joy on their faces while they were at camp. Our campers also appreciated the kind notes of encouragement from so many of you.
You have stuck with us through the toughest of years, and for that, we are truly grateful. We bring you this report to celebrate YOU. To share our gratitude and reflect on a tremendous centennial year where we celebrate the important work that you make possible. Your support means so much to kids with disabilities and fills us with hope for the future.
We look forward to your continued involvement as an important part of the Easter Seals Ontario community
and to many more years of working together to help kids reach their true potential.
Kevin J. Collins
President and CEO
“When you see the sheer number of equipment funding requests we receive from families each year, it is hard to believe that it doesn’t even come close to the actual need for accessibility equipment. Every kid we help has a story of how their new piece of equipment gave them more independence or helped them be safer in their homes. Their heartwarming stories are often inspiring enough to bring tears to my eyes. These kids are amazing.
This year, thanks to our incredible donors, we were able to fund more equipment requests than usual. These requests for equipment funding are one hundred percent supported by Easter Seals donors. Every donation, no matter the amount, helps us help more kids. The need for mobility and accessibility equipment is ongoing and seeing the need firsthand drives home the importance of what Easter Seals does every day to help fulfill it.”
– Erica Vanclief, Manager of Services
You Made a Tremendous Difference in Mercy’s Life
Mercy is a bright and active high school senior who beams with positivity and a passion for life. She was born with spina bifida and relies on assistive devices to get around, “One leg is shorter than the other, so it is basically impossible for me to walk,” she explains.
Before moving to Canada at 12 years old, Mercy didn’t have access to the mobility equipment she needs for everyday basic needs, “Back in my country, I would crawl a lot to different places and it’s not very sanitary…I used to really hurt my knees,” she explains.
“I used to be in a place where I didn’t have money to get a wheelchair, to get devices that could help me,” shares Mercy.“So coming to Canada and getting all of these different people to say they are going to help me, especially when it comes to Easter Seals, has changed my perspective on humanity.”
In 2018, Easter Seals donors helped Mercy get her first manual wheelchair that was properly fitted. She explains that “having a wheelchair has meant …not having to stress about a family member carrying me around …it is a stress relief. It makes me feel included in everything,” Mercy says. “I can just go anywhere. I appreciate the fact that I have a device that allows me to access different places and go places without any worries or struggles.”
The support Mercy received from Easter Seals donors has opened her world to new possibilities:
“I have grown to be much more independent when it comes to my own life,” Mercy explains, “I have been able to transition, even when it comes to my teenage years, and learned how to do different things by myself.”
Easter Seals Camp
“This past summer was a special one, as we opened our doors to in-person camp after two years of COVID-19 closures. Easter Seals donors stepped up in a big way to help give kids their long-awaited camp experiences. Hundreds of messages from Easter Seals supporters warmed the hearts of our campers and made their time at camp even more special.
A camp experience is that much more important to kids with physical disabilities because they are often excluded from activities and experiences designed for their able-bodied peers. They are not able to go to most summer camps because of the accessibility limitations. Kids don’t have to worry about that at Easter Seals camp because the entire property was designed to be completely accessible, and every activity has been thoughtfully designed to meet their needs. The experience fosters a sense of belonging and inclusion and does wonders to boost confidence.
It is an honour and a privilege to bring these much-needed experiences to kids who otherwise would not have the chance to participate in summer camp. It really means the world to them.”
– Keith Rashid, Senior Manager of Recreation and Facilities
Letters from Our Campers
Our campers wanted to share messages of their own with you – our generous supporters and thank you for making their camp experiences possible.
We invite you to click this link for a look inside Easter Seals camp this past summer.
Education and Advocacy
“Easter Seals Ontario acts as a voice for kids with disabilities by advocating for their proper care and support while in school. In January this year, a concerning piece of legislation was proposed by the Ministry of Education to revise Policy/Program Memorandum 81 (PPM 81). PPM 81 provides a framework for the delivery of health services in schools for supports like
occupational therapy, speech therapy, catheterization, and injection of medication, just to name a few. It outlines responsibilities for the administration, training, and direction of these supports and services. The proposed changes to PPM 81 would weaken current supports and would mean professional procedures like catheterization, for example, would be
delegated to school support staff, rather than being performed by qualified nurses.
Easter Seals Ontario is opposed to these changes and, working with our representatives on Special Education Advisory Committees, have responded to this proposal stressing that services need to be maintained and enhanced. That’s just one example of the issues Easter Seals Ontario advocates for with the government. Easter Seals Ontario will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for supports for kids with disabilities in the education system, and in their day-to-day lives.”
– Alison Morse, Senior Manager of Advocacy and Family Engagement
Advocating for Kids with Disabilities in Schools
Easter Seals Ontario board member, Jeffery Man, represents Easter Seals on the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). These are some of Jeffrey’s biggest SEAC accomplishments:
- Reversing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cuts in Occupational Therapist and Physio Therapist services at schools across York Region
- Solidifying a modernised delivery model so more kids get access to high-quality special education services
- Advocating for kids with physical disabilities in the education system.
“The Special Education Advisory Committee advises on special education policies and programs at each school board. We review and approve the Special Education Plan and the special education budget. Voting members represent community organizations like Easter Seals Ontario, that serve people with disabilities and provide input on a range of programs, strategies, and service delivery models.
Having a diversity of thoughts and perspectives at the table improves the quality of decision-making at school boards. Those decisions trickle down to the school level and have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of students with disabilities. I had some great experiences at school, and I’m working to ensure future generations do as well.”
– Jeffery Man, Board Director
Ambassadors – Highlights of 2022
Each year, two remarkable youth are chosen as Provincial Easter Seals Ambassadors. They travel around the province to share their stories, develop their leadership and public speaking skills, and help create positive representation for kids with physical disabilities. This year we have two incredible Ambassadors, Sebastien Parent and Hoor Ulain Nassani. We are thrilled for you to hear about how their exciting year representing Easter Seals Ontario has gone so far.
What has been your favourite moment as an ESO ambassador this year?
Sebastien: My favourite moment was at the Conn Smythe Dinner where I got to meet so many amazing people and be welcomed into such a loving and positive community.
Hoor Ulain: Every event that I have participated in as an ESO Ambassador this year has been amazing and helped me grow so much. Now when it comes to a favourite moment, I would say it was the honour of meeting Prime Minister Trudeau, and going to the Senate and having our names read out by the Speaker.
What will you take away from your Ambassador experience that will help you in the future?
Sebastien: The opportunity to be more open with people and connect with them while also having the ability to spread my message of positivity and love. As well as being able to grow and be a more confident person.
Hoor Ulain: Becoming an ESO ambassador has helped me with my confidence, public speaking skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Taking all of this into account, all of these skills are extremely useful and will be very helpful with whatever I decide to do in the future.
What has this experience taught you about yourself?
Sebastien: Regardless of the challenge that I face, I will be able to overcome it with time and persistence. And even if I am not comfortable with something, I know that with time and practice I will be able to conquer any challenge.
Hoor Ulain: Becoming an ESO Ambassador taught me that my disability is not a disadvantage but rather a very important and positive advantage to society. In addition to making me realize that I’ve always had a confident person on the inside but was never brave enough to let that person shine until I became an ESO Ambassador.
Any advice for the 2023 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassadors?
Sebastien: Just enjoy it. The year goes by so quick that you don’t even get to realize by the end of it that it is over. You really just have to cherish every moment and make sure you are getting the best of it. Try your best to make connections with as many people as you can and really take it for what it is worth. It is going to be one of the best years of your life, even if it may seem a little scary at first.
Hoor Ulain: A piece of advice that I would give to the ESO 2023 Ambassadors is to be yourself, everyone is there to hear your story and get to know you. No one will judge you at all. Enjoy every moment of the year, because it will go by so fast.
The Cost of Freedom for a Child with a Disability
Freedom means different things to different people. For a child with a physical disability, a stander provides freedom from excruciating muscle pain caused by constant sitting. A porch lift offers the freedom to safely enter and exit their home. A commode provides a teenager with the freedom and dignity of using the washroom without assistance from parents.
Donate towards freedom.
Your donations help fill the gap between insurance coverage, government programs, and private funding families receive.
Here are some examples of the costs of essential mobility and accessibility equipment in 2022:
|Power wheelchair||$15,000 – $35,000|
|Manual wheelchair||$5,000 – $15,000|
|Home ramp||$1,000 – $8,000|
|Porch lift||$4,500 – $7,000|
|Van lift||$3,000 – $35,000|
|Stander||$1,500 – $10,000|
|Ankle-foot Orthotics||$1,200 – $4,000|
|Walker||$500 – $6,000|
|Bath lift*||$2,300 – $4,000|
|Shower/Commode chair*||$1,500 – $5,000|
|Specialized car seat*||$950 – $4,000|
Equipment costs vary depending on the size and specific items required
for the child’s needs to make the equipment work best for them. For
example, many of the standing frames cost over the amount that is
covered by both the government and Easter Seals maximum amount,
leaving many of the families to have to pay an additional $200 to $3,500.
The cost of this equipment can add up quickly. Most children with physical disabilities need various equipment items to live safely and with greater independence and dignity. Most parents cannot afford all the equipment their child needs.
That’s where support from Easter Seals donors like yourself makes a tremendous difference for these families by helping to remove the cost barrier they face. Thank you for all you do for kids with physical disabilities to help them live healthy, happy, and safe lives.