In Canada, Easter Seals is a group of charitable organizations which supports the development and advancement of children, youth and adults who are living with different types of disabilities. Founded in 1922 by a group of Rotary Clubs, it sought to emulate the success of the American Easter Seals program.

Today, Easter Seals is set up as a federated structure led by Easter Seals Canada which represents the organization's national interests, and provincially-licensed member organizations in each of the ten provinces that directly provide a range of programs and services locally. Across Canada, Easter Seals supports over 40,000 children, youth, adults and their families each year.

The best-known and largest of Easter Seals services are the summer camp programs. There are 12 Easter Seals accessible camp facilities across Canada that are geared towards providing camp opportunities to over 4600 children with physical and/or mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida. Set-up and activities offered at the camps differ from location to location but in general, the camps provide participants with opportunities to participate in a range of activities such as: sledge hockey, adaptive archery, basketball, rock climbing, accessible High Ropes, canoeing and rafting, swimming, arts and crafts, music and drama, campfires, camping in a tent, and more. The camps welcome children, youth and adults, and families, and are provided at a heavily subsidized rate or at no cost to the families.

In addition to the summer camps, Easter Seals also provides a range of other programs and services. These differ from province to province but include financial assistance for mobility equipment, assistive devices and technologies such as adaptive computers and communication aids, and wheelchair-accessibility modifications to vehicles and homes; academic bursaries and scholarships; year-round adaptive sports and recreational programs; employment preparation and job training services; respite services and accommodations in urban centers for families travelling for medical treatment; and social enterprise services.

National programsEdit

Access 2 Card ProgramEdit

Designed to promote social integration and well-being, and reduce the financial burden on persons who are living with disabilities who require assistance of a support person, the award-winning Access 2 Card Program is an initiative developed by Easter Seals in partnership with Cineplex Entertainment. For a nominal fee, persons who are living with permanent disabilities can obtain an Access 2 Card which then provides the cardholder with either a free or a discounted ticket for a support person that is accompanying them while the cardholder pays the regular admission price to the facility. The card is valid at Cineplex movie theatres across Canada and over 500 other entertainment, cultural and recreational venues such as museums, art galleries, zoos, historical sites, and aquariums.[1] There were more than 200,000 users of the card in 2013.[2] The Access 2 Cad Program is administered by Easter Seals Canada.

Disability Travel CardEdit

The Disability Travel Card is a program of Easter Seals which operates in partnership with Via Rail, Greyhound and Coach Canada intended for people with disabilities who require assistance from support personnel while traveling. The card enables the cardholder – the person with permanent disability – to obtain a reduced ticket fare for the support person accompanying them at the time of travel, while the cardholder pays the regular ticket price.[3]

Red Shirt Day of Action for Accessibility and InclusionEdit

Red Shirt Day is an initiative of Easter Seals Canada which was first observed in 2019 as part of the Government of Canada's National AccessAbility Week celebrations. The event echoes similar events like Pink Shirt Day (anti-bullying) and Orange Shirt Day (solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in Canada) in that it seeks to honour and value the contributions of Canadians of all abilities - particularly those who are living with disabilities, raise awareness among Canadians of all ages about challenges and barriers that continue to impact the lives of people who are living with disabilities and their families, and promote actions to create a truly accessible and inclusive society in Canada.

Canadian Easter Seal organizationsEdit

Canada (National)Edit

Easter Seals Canada is the national body representing Easter Seals organizations across the country.

AlbertaEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Alberta is Easter Seals Alberta. Easter Seals Camp Horizon, located near Bragg Creek, is the only Easter Seals camp in the province.[4][5]

British ColumbiaEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in British Columbia is Easter Seals British Columbia and Yukon. It is also known as The BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities, and also oversees services delivered in the Yukon.

ManitobaEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Manitoba is Easter Seals Manitoba. It is also known as the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities Foundation.

New BrunswickEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in New Brunswick is Easter Seals New Brunswick.

Nova ScotiaEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Nova Scotia is Easter Seals Nova Scotia.

NewfoundlandEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Newfoundland and Labrador is Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador. Its history dates back to 1937 when the then Rotary Sunshine Camp Association was formed to establish a summer camp for children. Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador maintain offices in St. John's and Corner Brook. The Newfoundland and Labrador Easter Seals also ran a fundraiser called Harbour Haunt until 2013 before it was picked up by a paintball and laser tag firm called Frontline Action. Today, only a portion of the proceeds are split between the Easter Seals and the Miles for Smiles foundation. It is also now referred to as "Zombie Train."

OntarioEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Ontario is Easter Seals Ontario. For 95 years, Easter Seals Ontario has offered programs and services to help children and youth with physical disabilities from all ethnic and religious backgrounds achieve a greater level of acceptance and independence. Easter Seals provides financial assistance for the purchase of costly mobility equipment and communication devices. Easter Seals also owns and operates two fully accessible camp properties, one in London and the other near Perth, Ontario, and is recognized as an industry leader in providing specialized camping and recreation programs for kids with physical disabilities.

  • Camp Woodeden: Opened in 1946, Camp Woodeden is located on the Thames River just outside London and sits on 107 acres of land. The camp currently has 18 buildings which include camper cabins, an outdoor amphitheatre, a swimming pool, the only fully accessible ropes course in North America and an accessible outdoor climbing wall. In 2011 the camp opened a new gym and life-skills kitchen. There are 58 staffers including 3 registered nurses and 2 health care assistants.[6]
  • Camp Merrywood: Camp Merrywood opened in 1948, originally as a camp for children with polio; 6 children attended in the first year. The camp now accommodates 72 children with all physical disabilities. It sits on 30 acres of land between Smith Falls and Perth, just outside Ottawa. There are 12 buildings staffed by 64 people, including 3 registered nurses and 2 healthcare assistants. Activities include overnight canoe and camping trips, sport, fishing, music and drama, and campfires.[7]

Prince Edward IslandEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Prince Edward Island is Easter Seals PEI - operated by the Rotary Club of Charlottetown, with support from Rotary Club of Summerside and Rotary Club of Montague.

QuebecEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Quebec is Timbres de Paques. It is more popularly known as La Fondation Papillon, and its history in the province dates back to 1930.

SaskatchewanEdit

The provincial Easter Seals organization in Saskatchewan is Easter Seals Saskatchewan. It is more well known as SaskAbilities (formerly the Saskatchewan Abilities Council).

AwardsEdit

In 2014, Easter Seals Canada was awarded The Tourism Industry Associate of Ontario’s (TIAO) Award of Excellence for Accessible Tourism for its Access 2 Card and Disability Travel Card programs. Easter Seals is the first recipient of this award, which celebrates the efforts made to make tourism destinations available to all Canadians, regardless of abilities.[2]

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Access 2 Entertainment Card, Easter Seals Canada; Attractions, Access 2 Entertainment Card.
  2. ^ a b CNW, Easter Seals Canada Wins New Accessible Tourism Award, Canadian Newswire, November 14, 2014, retrieved July 22, 2016.
  3. ^ Disability Travel Card Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine, Easter Seals Canada.
  4. ^ "About Us | Alberta Easter Seals". Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  5. ^ "Year-Round Facilities | Alberta Easter Seals". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  6. ^ About Woodeden Camp, Easter Seals camps.
  7. ^ About MerryWood Camp, Easter Seals camps.