“Celebrate communities where everybody belongs”: Waterloo Belongathon aims to raise accessibility awareness
Hundreds of people walked and rolled into Waterloo on Saturday to highlight the importance of accessibility.
The group was taking part in a Belongathon event hosted by non-profit organization Christian Horizons.
The event featured games, speeches and a stroll or roll along the Ironhorse Trail to raise awareness for individuals with developmental disabilities.
“The Belongathon is our very first ever event where we promote communities where everybody belongs,” said Janet Noel-Annable, the Chief Executive Officer with Christian Horizons. “We’re raising money for some of our non-government funded programs - our family camps, some of our affordable housing projects, as well as some of the work we do overseas around disability issues in Ethiopia.”
Saturday’s local celebrations marked one of many other events of its kind across Canada.
“It’s also happening in 16 other spaces across Ontario and Saskatchewan. Altogether, we’ve got 1,000 belongathoners celebrating together,” said Noel-Annable.
Though strides have been made over the years to create inclusive spaces for all, she added that there’s still lots of work to be done.
“In Ontario today, probably half of the people that need services, have access to all of the services that they need to,” she said. “Still, there are wait lists for services. Not enough people have access to good, affordable housing in our communities and we hope that by, not only raising money, but raising awareness and raising fun, we hope that our community’s awareness is raised and we just celebrate how far we’ve come and recognize the work we have to do together in the future.”
Noel-Annable finished by saying that everybody needs to reflect on what they can do to help the cause.
“We need people to be welcomed into community spaces, into faith communities, into community centres. All the things that you and I like to do, people with disabilities like to do those too.”