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Charity introduces new program, promotes accessibility, equity

All proceeds go towards providing dignity for disabled folks in Waterloo Region
Bridges to Belonging

Kitchener charity, Bridges to Belonging, has launched its Build-A-Bridge Monthly Partner Program.

 An opportunity for community members across Waterloo Region to partner with non-profit Bridges to Belonging, the program makes monthly financial donations and social investments to provide dignity for disabled people across Waterloo Region.  All Build-A-Bridge contributions are used to remove all costs for youth, adults and seniors who self-identify with any disability.

This includes physical, developmental, chronic pain, cognitive, psychosocial and mental health disorders. Participants are then paired with a facilitator to develop a network of support and achieve their personal goals for the life they want to live. 

“As facilitators, we offer an unconventional approach to traditional disability programs, placements and services by walking alongside the person in a one-to-one relationship,” said the press release. “(This allows them) to be empowered, envision and determine the life they want.” 

According to the organization, removing that financial barrier creates possibilities and opportunities for people with disabilities to become employed, and engage in volunteerism, increasing their independence, reducing isolation, and improving their quality of life.

"I have been working with my Facilitator for a while,” said a self-advocate from the program. “We have tried quite a few things and slowly I am starting to put some passion back into my life and move toward my goals.” 

In 2019, 87,600 people (20.8%) identified as living with a disability in the Waterloo Region. In 2020 there were 52,140 people with an income between $10,000 to $19,999 in Waterloo Region. 

"So far, this has been the best, most useful program that (my child) has participated in,” said a family member. “(My child) has experienced the largest strides toward independence, confidence and acceptance toward independent living ever.” 

The primary source of income for most adults with a disability is the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), whose maximum allowance for the basic needs of a single recipient is $672/month. This rate is adjusted to $969/month if they have a spouse.

“Independent Facilitation has been the most crucial program that (my child) has been a part of and the most helpful to me, as the caregiver,” said the family member. “I honestly don’t know what our lives would be like without (Bridges to Belonging).” 



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