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Accessibility Lift Means a Lot: Swimmer

By Tim Miller, The Intelligencer
Friday, November 25, 2016

Tim Miller/The Intelligencer Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith and Ken Wilman cuts the ribbon on a new pool-side accessibility lift at the Belleville YMCA while Sarah Tokley, manager of association aquatics applauds on Friday. The new lift was made possible by a $14,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant.

When Ken Wilman wants to go for a swim at the YMCA in Belleville he has a much easier time of it, thanks to a new accessibility lift.

“It means a lot,” said the 66-year-old who gets around in a wheelchair as his lower body is paralyzed.

Wilman visits the YMCA’s pool as much as he can, he said, adding the addition of the new lift will make it much easier on staff when it comes to helping him in and out of the pool.

“It helps them, and for me it’s great because I love swimming. It’s the best exercise.”

The motorized lift allows those with mobility issues to transfer from a wheelchair on the pool deck and into the pool with minimal help from YMCA staff.

On Friday Wilman, along with YMCA staff, Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith and Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Deanne Dulmage, were on hand for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new lift.

“The impact that the lift has had on our members cannot be underestimated,” said Sarah Tokley, manager of association aquatics. “The lift allows for independent access to the pool which can have a significant impact on a person with mobility challenges.”

The accessibility lift is the newest addition to the facility which has seen several upgrades over the past three years including locker rooms, a new sprung wood floor in the gymnasium, the individual conditioning centre and multi-purpose and studios areas.

The lift was made possible thanks to a $14,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant. The grant was applied for last year and the lift was installed approximately six months ago,

“The YMCA of Central East Ontario Belleville Branch is committed to ensure accessibility for existing and new customers within our community,” stated Smith. “The new pool lift will allow access for those who experience mobility issues.”

Smith added since the Belleville facilitiy is an older building sometimes finding funding to upgrade can be a challenge.

“I am pleased that the Ontario Trillium Grant was able to assist in the delivery of the aquatics program,” he stated.

“I applaud the dedication of the Belleville YMCA staff and CEO in recognizing and delivering programs for every age group with an emphasis on healthy activities for everyone,” said Smith.

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