Easter Seals access card program growing on P.E.I.

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Easter Seals access card program growing on P.E.I.

People with disabilities on PEI can now access more facilities and events without added costs. More businesses have signed up to be part of the "Access 2" card program.

Access 2 cards are for people with permanent disabilities —whether physical or intellectual— who require help from an attendant. The card offers free admission for the support person.

The program is offered by Easter Seals across the country, but until recently, only three businesses on P.E.I. were signed up. The PEI Association for Community Living has recruited more businesses. There are now eight, with more to come.

Access to more activities

Andrea MacNeill is the fund development officer for the PEI Association for Community Living. She approached businesses on the Island, asking them to join the program. She said the reaction was "100 per cent positive."

She said the program allows some people to participate in activities they might not otherwise be able to. That could include swimming at the Bell Aliant Centre, bowling at The Alley, and going to Shining Water Family Fun Park.

"It's not double the cost every time they want their child or the family member to do something fun," said MacNeill.

She also noted that offering free admission to a support person can take responsibility off of facilities staff, who might otherwise have to step in and help.

"Maybe that person needs help going to the bathroom, help getting something to eat, help to get in and out of the wheelchair. Well, that support person is there to help get it done," said MacNeill.

'It's a real challenge'

The PEI Association for Community Living held an event Sunday where people could sign up for the card.

Catherine MacInnis signed up her son Cameron, who has Down syndrome, and is also this year's Easter Seals ambassador. She said there are a lot of added costs for Cameron to be able to do everyday activities, like going to a movie with friends.

"Every time I'm budgeting to hire a support person, and I think about what they're going to do with Cameron on any given day, I do have to factor in," said MacInnis.

"I've often thought, what do families do who are on limited incomes? It kind of breaks my heart really, because it's a real challenge. And we want our loved ones with disabilities to experience [what] all the other people have. But because they have a support person, there is that cost involved."