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Canada invests in youth-driven accessibility projects

smiling girl in wheelchair with friend
Photo: Easter Seals

Youth play a crucial role in driving change both in Canada and internationally, displaying a strong desire to engage within their communities. Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) program harnesses this enthusiasm by fostering leadership skills, valuable experiences, and positive community contributions among young Canadians. The program’s goal is to enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities across the country.

In celebration of International Youth Day on August 12th, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, announced $1.1 million in funding for accessibility projects led by Canadian youth in partnerships with 131 organizations across the country. This funding is distributed through the EAF youth innovation component 2022 call for proposals, which ran from June 3 to October 31, 2022.

Through the EAF’s youth innovation component, Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 30 are encouraged to become Youth Accessibility Leaders (YALs). The unique role of a YAL is to help identify accessibility barriers within their communities, and then partner with local organizations to help secure up to $10,000 in accessibility project funding to address the barriers in community spaces and workplaces.

For the occasion, Minister Khera, accompanied by Jean Yip, Member of Parliament for Scarborough—Agincourt, Ontario, visited the Community Family Services of Ontario (CFSO) in Scarborough, Ontario. CFSO provides a variety of services, including disability and special need services, to address the needs of individuals and families affected by various types of visible and invisible disabilities as well as special needs. The organization is receiving:

$8,898 in funding to purchase accessible devices and equipment such as an infrared-based hearing system, a FM-based hearing system and a screen-reading group license. This will enhance and expand service provisions in a safe, inclusive and culturally sensitive manner, and provide greater opportunities for current or future employees with disabilities.

On June 5, 2023, a new call for proposals under the EAF youth innovation component was launched. Youth are invited to submit their expressions of interest in being named a YAL by October 10, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. EDT online. Eligible organizations are invited to submit their funding application(s) in collaboration with the YAL by October 31, 2023 at 5:00p.m. EDT online. Interested young Canadians and organizations are invited to attend upcoming information sessions available at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/enabling-accessibility-fund-youth-innovation.html.

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