Easter Seals interested in learning more about offer from WestRock

Diane Crocker
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Ben Fitzgerald, executive director of the WestRock Community Centre gives a presentation at the pre-budget consultations at Corner Brook City Hall on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.

Mark Lane said Monday that he’s going to take the lead again with seeing Easter Seals programs continue on the west coast.

Lane, the CEO and executive director of Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador, made the comment after he learned of a story that appeared over the weekend on TheWesternStar.com and in Monday’s paper about an offer of help from WestRock Community Centre executive director Ben Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald told The Western Star he was willing to work with Easter Seals to see some of the programming that ended with the closure of the organization’s Corner Brook office continue.

“If Easter Seals Newfoundland wants to see these kids benefit from all it is they are, then they have no more excuses, because I’ve put it out there that we’re willing to help,” said Fitzgerald in the article.

Lane said he’s taken the first step and called and left a message for Fitzgerald.

“To open up an olive branch and see if we can do some type of co-operation,” said Lane.

He added he’s definitely interested in finding out if something can be done to open programs there.

Lane met with parents and concerned individuals in the city in February and left feeling a committee of parents was ready to take on the continuation of the programs.

However, that hasn’t happened and Lane said that’s disappointing.

“I guess life is busy for everybody and that hasn’t materialized, but now that we have a location and a gentleman who seems to be very adamant and very full of energy to do something, maybe he’s the guy to take the lead.”

Fitzgerald has said it’s not something he could take on himself, but is willing to work in partnership with anyone.

And Lane recognizes he’ll need help on the ground.

“Maybe Ben’s the guy to help and encourage,” he said and added “maybe I need to re-engage those individuals again and parents again.”

Meanwhile, the equipment that Easter Seals had in the city is still here at the Humber Community YMCA. The Y offered programs in partnership with Easter Seals for its clients.

YMCA chief executive officer Christine Young said the office closure left her feeling concerned for the Easter Seals clients and so the Y has been doing what it can to fill the gap left by the office closure.

“We’ve been doing an awful lot to continue what we used to do with them.”

That includes continuing fitness memberships, Zumba classes and plans to hold monthly socials.

“Right now that’s about all we’re capable of doing,” said Young, but added they are still trying to start a bocce program.

Young said the former Easter Seals participants have been included in a new Barrier Free Fitness program at the Y.

She said the program includes not only the Easter Seals clients but also people from the Association for Independent Living and other individuals identified with a physical or other barrier to participation.

“Whoever can benefit from it, can come and participate in it,” she said.

As for a relationship with Easter Seals, Young said “we haven’t had any contact with them at all.”

Lane said he hasn’t been in contact with the Y, but he’d certainly reach out to them as well.

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Organizations: Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador, WestRock Community Centre, YMCA Association for Independent Living

Geographic location: Western Star, Corner Brook

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