By:  Emily Mountney

The Trentonian , Thursday June 30, 2011

A local project has been given a financial boost by the provincial government.

Six organizations – Community Living Quinte West, Pathways to Independence, Community Vision & Networking, Community Living Campbellford/Brighton, Community Living Belleville and Area and the Quinte West YMCA – received $61,643 Monday morning.

“We received some funding two years ago for the project and this is a continuation of that funding,” said Ron Riddell, general manager of the YMCA.

They money will go toward the HELMS project — Health, Energy, Learning and Motivation through Sports — aims to improve the quality of life for disabled people. The six organizations, which work together to provide the program, have also teamed up with Queen’s University in Kingston.  “The money will be partially used for access to the YMCA. Other activities they do can include horseback riding, sailing and skiing,” said Riddell.

Riddell said the program is primarily for those with intellectual disabilities, but some participants have physical disabilities as well.  The money will also be used to develop resource materials such as videos to show what the HELMS project offers.

Some of the funding will also be used by Queen’s to conduct research on the effect of physical activity and sports on the mental and physical health and social integration of local people with intellectual disabilities.

 “People with intellectual disabilities will be able to lead healthier and better lives because of the Healthy Community Funding we are receiving,” said Starr Olson, Community Living Quinte West executive director. “This funding means a great deal to many, many people who are sometimes forgotten.”  The funding is part of the provincial government’s Healthy Communities Fund.

“Folks with disabilities play a huge role in our society,” said Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi. “They should be able to enjoy the same benefits as all of us.”