Easter Seals N.L. fundraiser allows people with disabilities 'to just enjoy life'

·2 min read
Organizers mark the beginning of Easter Seals N.L.'s 2021 Run, Walk, Stroll and Roll event in St. John's on Sunday. (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)
Organizers mark the beginning of Easter Seals N.L.'s 2021 Run, Walk, Stroll and Roll event in St. John's on Sunday. (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)
Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Run, Walk, Stroll and Roll, an annual fundraiser for Easter Seals N.L., an organization that helps people with disabilities access recreational activities and education, raised more than $10,000 on Sunday in St. John's.

A crowd of roughly 30 participants gathered on the grounds of the organization's Mount Scio Road headquarters. Among them were Nemo, Dory and a number of other characters, in keeping with the event's Disney theme.

The money raised will help fund Easter Seals N.L.'s programming, which one organizer says is essential for people with disabilities and their families.

"We see the daily impact that [those programs] have on the people that we serve," said Samantha Parrell, Easter Seals' manager of fund development and communications.

"Families get to connect, and they get to benefit from the inclusivity of our programs," she said.

'We help them get included'

Whether cognitive, sensory or physical, some 100,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador live with a disability, the organization's website states.

The charity offers access to day camps, jobs skills training, and a host of recreational programs from music and art to dance and other forms of creative expression.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Gavin Baggs, 14, and his family are among the beneficiaries of Easter Seals NL's programs.

Gavin became interested in sports after seeing the Paralympics on TV, he says. It was through Easter Seals N.L.'s sports programming that he got to hone his skills in sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball.

His experience with Easter Seals N.L. inspired Gavin to become the organization's 2021 ambassador.

"For people who can't do many things, we give them an opportunity to do those things," he said. "We give them an opportunity to be a part of something. If they aren't included in certain things, we help them get included."

Access granted

Shayne Menecola, who has a daughter with cerebral palsy, says Eastern Seals N.L.'s programs benefit participants of all ages and abilities.

"The individuals who come to these programs thrive," he said. "They get to contribute to society just like everybody else and participate."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Menecola said it's thanks to Eastern Seals N.L.'s programs that his daughter can take part in music therapy, swimming, and many other of her favourite activities.

"We don't always get a chance to participate in regular school programs or community run organizations," he said. "It just allows our daughter to be a regular kid and just enjoy life."

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