After missing two years of ambassador tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Easter Seals campaign is back in full swing on P.E.I. this spring.
Easter Seals raises awareness and money to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Funds go to community organizations such as Camp Gencheff, The Joyriders Therapeutic Riding Association, and projects such as disability-inclusive playgrounds.
"I'm really excited," said Vaeda Matheson, who was named Easter Seals ambassador in 2019, something she calls "probably the best thing that ever happened to me in my life."
Matheson has cerebral palsy, which affects her mobility.
She has been waiting until now to undertake a province-wide tour of schools, where she will receive money raised by students and staff. It's one of the campaign events that ambassadors such as Matheson look forward to most. She has a YouTube channel and said she enjoys acting and having her photo taken.
'Inspire other kids'
She said this year, however, she won't be speaking to assemblies of students crowded into school gymnasiums or cafeterias. Organizers have planned for her to meet with smaller cohorts of students.
"I want to, like, inspire other kids," she said. "Shout out my message to everybody."
That message or motto is, "Be different and follow your heart."
She is excited to gather donations on the school tour and said the fundraising by kids "just warms my heart."
The ambassador's tour begins Wednesday at Glen Stewart School in Stratford and ends next Wednesday at West Kent Elementary in Charlottetown.
Her mother said everyone on the tour bus taking Vaeda across the Island will have to take a negative COVID-19 test every day.
Easter Seals committee chair Bill Martin is excited for the tour to begin, calling Vaeda "one in a million." He said the school tour raises critical funds for children with disabilities, and awareness of the challenges youth with disabilities in P.E.I. face.
Matheson and her family also get a trip to a conference in Ottawa later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of Easter Seals in Canada, where she is excited to meet other provincial Easter Seals ambassadors.