Easter Seals Alberta Society
Our Story Why We Exist
“I’m accepted for who I am. I cry every time I leave because what happens at Camp doesn’t happen anywhere else” -Daniel, Camper at Easter Seals Camp Horizon
“One day my worst fear was realized. My wheelchair stalled in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Calgary.”- Dermott, Client of Equipment and Support Services program
This is why we exist. To serve the needs of Albertans regardless of age, gender or disability. Over the past 63 years we have grown, adapted and worked hard to make a difference for all Albertans and their families by providing direct services, financial assistance, a summer camp and an equipment program. We also provide public education, research and advocacy in the province of Alberta.
For Daniel, being at Easter Seals Camp Horizon has changed him and the way he sees life. He is more confident and realizes that he still has a lot of ability even if he has a disability. For Dermott, receiving his new wheelchair through Easter Seals Alberta after his old one left him helpless allowed him to leave the house with confidence again. As a senior, being part of the community he helped build is important.
The history of what is now the Easter Seals Alberta Society begins in 1951 and has reflected the needs of the times. As new disability related organizations formed and others folded, and government policy and activities changed, our organization maintained a focus on the needs of Albertans with physical disabilities. In 1951, motivated by the polio epidemic sweeping the continent, Albertans gathered to raise funds for services and equipment needed by children disabled by the disease. That year, the first Easter Seal and Easter lily appeared in this province. In 1959, our services expanded to assist physically disabled adults and seniors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age had someone in their corner.
Our Impact What We Do
No one expects to be diagnosed with an illness or injury that affects mobility, independence and dignity. But one in seven Albertans face those challenges daily. Thankfully, these individuals and their families can rely on the Easter Seals Alberta Society to provide mobility equipment, summer camps and other services to provide the best quality of life as possible.
Throughout Alberta we provide low-income individuals with physical disabilities of any age with the mobility equipment they need to remain independent and to participate in their communities. The equipment we provide through our Equipment and Support Services (ESS) program is life changing. It allows for greater freedom, independence and encourages Albertans with disabilities to live to their full potential. Feeling inspired and empowered, our clients can then better focus on their goals in life which can include accessing their community to volunteer, gainning employment, shopping for groceries and attending medical appointments without having to depend on others.
As a last resort program it acts as a safety net to ensure low-income does not remain a barrier for these men, women and children by ensuring that they do not “fall through the cracks”.
“Easter Seals is a blessing for seniors with limited mobility and on a fixed income. Without organizations like this, life would be almost unbearable for those seniors. They would be confined to their homes or apartments and have little or no independence. Without the help of Easter Seals, it would be impossible for seniors on a fixed income and with mobility concerns to have a reasonable quality of life.” – Dermott, ESS Client
On average there are 17 clients a month in Calgary and area on our wait list waiting for over $60,000 worth of equipment. Provincially, our monthly average is 67 clients a month waiting for over $250,000 worth of equipment.
In most cases, we retain ownership of equipment that is purchased and provided. When that equipment is no longer needed, it is returned to be refurbished and recycled out the next client on our list when possible. This has become a very cost effective way of running our program as last year we provided 207 Albertans with mobility equipment at a total cost of $440,357. Out of those 207 clients, 85 received recycled equipment which saved our organization a total of $245,442.
Average Cost of a Helping Hand
- Power wheelchair ..................................$3,500 - $12,000
- Portable house ramp .............................$600 - $1,100
- Porch lift ..................................................$4,500 - $7,000
- Power scooters .......................................$2,900 - $5,500
- Electric lift assist chairs .........................$1,000 - $2,300
Another big part of what we do is creating memories, promoting healthy self- esteems, and making dreams come true for the many children with disabilities that attend our summer camps each year at Easter Seals Camp Horizon located in Bragg Creek.
“The kids at school focus on my disabilities, while the people at camp focus on my abilities. That is why camp is so special to me. My favorite activities to do at camp are the Giant Swing because I like the thrill of being so high up in the air out of my wheelchair and the speed of swinging, and also horseback riding because it is calming and a new experience.” - Zachary
Located on 62 acres in Kananaskis Country our campers get to traverse tree-top ropes courses, swing on a giant swing, rock climb, and challenge themselves in ways they never imagined possible through the mentorship and leadership of our camp staff. Children leave camp each summer empowered with self confidence and with the knowledge that for them, anything is possible.
Within Alberta, Easter Seals Camp Horizon is the only provider of residential camping programs for children with kidney impairments, ostomies and those who are burn survivors. We are proud to offer our Ostomy Camp and MS Camp as they are the only ones of their kind in Canada. Each week during the summer has tailored activities for a group of children with the same disability. This allows them to be with other children facing the same challenges and experiences. Many children who have come to camp in the past have said again and again that this has lead to lifelong friendships and helped their self-esteem tremendously knowing that they are not alone in their struggles.
In addition to summer programs for children with disabilities, throughout the year we offer therapeutic recreation retreats and respites, and a treasured Christmas Camp for adults and seniors with developmental and physical disabilities. More than 60 volunteers help to make this program a cherished time for the campers who look forward to this event all year. We also host several adult camps in the late spring.
Our Programs How We Do It
We have six main programs:
- Equipment and Support Services (ESS) Program provides medically-needed mobility equipment to low-income Albertans with a disability.
- Easter Seals Camp Horizon is southern Alberta’s principal provider of outdoor and adventure recreation programs for children, youth and adults with disabilities.
- Easter Seals Speakers in Schools Program takes individuals with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities of varied backgrounds into Alberta high schools to talk to students about staying in school, overcoming adversity, and how to properly interact with people with disabilities.
- Easter Seals McQueen Residence was built in Edmonton more than 35 years ago to provide 24-hour personal care and room and board, at a reasonable cost. Easter Seals McQueen Residence quickly became the model for residences for people with disabilities developing independent living skills. Residents self govern, setting their own house rules and making their own decisions.
- The Phyllis Davidson Easter Seals Scholarship Program offers post-secondary scholarships to students with physical disabilities in Alberta.
- Through the Disability Travel Cards Program, individuals with disabilities can apply for lower travel costs by allowing their attendants to travel for free or at a reduced rate.
Build New Horizons - A capital campaign for Easter Seals Camp Horizon, southern Alberta’s principal provider of outdoor and adventure recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities.
This campaign, with campaign chair Susan Anderson and honourary chair JC Anderson, is on its way to reaching its $10 million dollar goal with $5.2 million raised. Years of planning and consideration has gone into this redevelopment plan with three main objectives; to replace aged and outdated facilities which were built 47 years ago, to give campers more quality indoor programming options, and to increase space in the facilities to accommodate our campers’ needs. Furthermore, the camp has had many repairs done in the past five years and more unexpected repairs continue to be needed. If Easter Seals Camp Horizon continued this path of simply reacting to urgent fixes, the future of the camp would be in jeopardy.
The campaign is broken into phases, and we are very happy to report that the $4.5 million required for Phase One, which includes building one of the two new dorms has been secured, and that the first dorm will be completed in September 2014. However, our campaign has reached a critical point as funding is required to ensure construction crews remain on the property when the first dorm is complete in September to start building our second dorm. To learn more about our Build New Horizons campaign or to book a tour of Easter Seals Camp Horizon please contact:
Our Requests What You Can Do
Advocate: Join our community on Facebook and Twitter and stay connected.
Volunteer at our events: These include events in Calgary and Edmonton such as our We Care Ball (Calgary), Kevin Karius Easter Seals Celebrity Golf Classic (Edmonton), JC Anderson Golf Invitational (Calgary), Banded Peak Challenge (Bragg Creek) and Drop Zone (Edmonton and Calgary).
Contributions: Your donation is life changing. To donate, you can provide monetary or in-kind donations or you can donate mobility equipment to be refurbished and recycled to clients.
Organize a work party at Easter Seals Camp Horizon: Organize a barbecue for the campers, or get your hands dirty and help out with a special project for our programs.