LUCKNOW – The Irwin family celebrated on Aug. 20 after receiving much-needed funding to modify a van that would accommodate their 18-year-old son, who uses a wheelchair full-time.
The van that the rural-based family had been using up to this point could no longer hold their son, William, as he had grown so tall that he was no longer able to sit upright in it, according to his mom, Jen Irwin.
When they discovered how much it would cost to modify a new van for William, they grew worried; trying to find something that would fit their six-person family seemed out of reach.
The family held a news conference to announce a generous donation from the March of Dimes and invited the press and local dignitaries to come to their home, just outside of Lucknow, to see the new, modified van that they were able to purchase.
A press release from the March of Dimes said that the Home and Vehicle Modification Program (HVMP) provides Ontario government-funded grants to people with disabilities to modify their homes and vehicle to foster independence and community connection.
“Without the $15,000 HVMP grant, we wouldn’t have been able to take William to his doctor appointments or on outings with the family. He would have been a prisoner in his own home,” said Jen Irwin. “Thanks to March of Dimes Canada and the provincial government, we were able to purchase the lift. Now, William can get to where he needs to go and live a full life.”
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson attended the news conference and said, “I am pleased to have been invited to this celebration and to witness how impactful the HVMP has been for the Irwin family. I know this program can impact the lives of many more Ontarians, which is why I will be supporting its growth.”
The HVMP program funds projects to reduce or eliminate life safety risks, enabling children, adults, and seniors with disabilities to continue living at home, maintain employment and carry out essential tasks of daily living.
March of Dimes Canada’s Jason Lye praised the completion of the project, saying, “This is a wonderful example of how the Home and Vehicle Modification Program is transformational for grant recipients. Every HVMP grant is different, but the Irwin family’s story exemplifies what they all in common: enabling the recipient to achieve independence in their own communities.”
Added Lye, “We are grateful for the continued partnership of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in making HVMP grants a reality for Ontarians across our province. We look forward to exploring opportunities to bring this program to even more Ontarians in the future.”
About March of Dimes Canada
March of Dimes Canada is one of the country’s largest non-profit organizations for people with disabilities, families, and communities. It offers a wide array of programs and services to support their everyday independence and empowerment. March of Dimes Canada has operated as a service delivery organization since 1951. It has an in-depth understanding of the diverse needs of people living with disabilities based on its role as a service provider. March of Dimes Canada’s Home and Vehicle Modification Program (HVMP) provides Ontario government-funded grants to Ontario seniors and people with disabilities to modify their homes and vehicle to foster independence and community connection.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times