FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO – May 2, 2017. The recent decision to eliminate the Integrated Kindergarten Program at Bloorview School Authority is a hard blow struck to the value of inclusion. For Reach for the Rainbow (Reach) inclusion is a necessary and critical part of community. By providing comprehensive in-take assessments, accessible transportation, adaptive equipment and specialized training for 1:1 support workers and site specific custom training for inclusive programs, Reach proves that integration is possible.
A 25+ year strategic alliance with the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital has enabled hundreds of children to have meaningful experiences. Through Holland Bloorview family referrals children after rehabilitation are given the opportunity of integrated recreation and sport through Reach for the Rainbow partners to ensure that children with disabilities have the ability to overcome numerous obstacles to inclusive participation across the province.
“Every child needs an inclusive school setting for learning – and it’s not just standard curriculum but social wellbeing at stake. Children spend most of their time at school which is where inclusion should happen. We believe that the participation of children and youth with disabilities in integrated activities promotes inclusion, minimizes deconditioning, optimizes physical functioning, and enhances overall health” states Program Manager Oksana Romanov.
For over 30 years Reach for the Rainbow has prepared environments for inclusive work and play. Reach has 34 partners that range from municipal recreation, overnight and day camps such as Miles Nadel, University of Toronto and the ROM, with over 66 program sites and 80 streams of activity. This successful Reach for the Rainbow support model in recreation can easily be adapted to education.
“Every day families depend on Reach to advocate for them, to help them navigate a very complex system on behalf of their children, to ensure that there are inclusive, safe and child centered programs. They look to Reach to change attitudes and culture.” said Executive Director Dawn MacDonald.
For children and youth with disabilities, belonging and participating in their community only occurs through a limited number of local programs and services that promote inclusion and involvement. It is with great sadness that a lack of funding support and declining enrolment mean that one of the shining stars in the field of successful inclusive opportunities will no longer be an option this coming Fall. It is a monumental step backwards. We all need to be guardians and advocates for inclusion now more than ever.
About Reach for the Rainbow
Reach for the Rainbow is a not-for-profit organization (#11911 1748 RR0001) that provides essential, barrier free, support services that connect children and youth with disabilities to inclusive recreation and sport opportunities in their own community.
For more information or interview requests please contact:
w:416-503-0088 ext. 147
563 Dundas St. East, Suite 201
Toronto, Ontario M5A 2B7
REACH is a registered non-profit organization
(#11911 1748 RR0001).
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