Trillium grant helps Whitby’s WindReach farms build fully accessible play space for all-abilities youth

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Published January 26, 2022 at 3:45 pm

A fully accessible play and activity space – built with the help of a $118,800 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation – has been completed at WindReach Farm in north Whitby.

The playground includes elements for all ages and abilities, as well as an outdoor classroom/gathering place to foster safe and socially distanced learning at the facility, which provides “one of a kind” therapeutic recreation and fitness opportunities for individuals of all abilities in a tranquil and nurturing environment.

“This support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will help us continue to change the lives of thousands of individuals with disabilities in the Region,” said Ross Ste-Croix, Executive Director, WindReach Farm. “The funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will be pivotal for us as we re-build our programs back to where they were prior to COVID and to expand as we turn our attention to growth once again.”

WindReach received the grant in 2019 but were not able to complete the work until now because of the pandemic.

Whitby MPP Lorne Coe met virtually with representatives from WindReach Farm to hear how two Trillium Foundation grants totalling $834,600 have made an impact on the organization. Stephanie Ball, a Trillium volunteer, was also on the call to hear how the non-profit group’s 2018 Grow grant helped expand the Farm’s horticultural therapy program, and its 2019 Capital grant helped create the fully accessible play and activity space for young people.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has been supporting those struggling the most,” said Coe. “These two grants will help WindReach Farm sustain operations and continue to deliver programming that is critical to the social well-being of Whitby and other Region of Durham residents.”

In the Fall of 2018, WindReach Farm learned that it was receiving a three-year, $715,800 Grow Trillium grant to help it expand its successful Harvest of Health initiative, an inclusive horticultural therapy program, so that it would reach 2,000 people in Durham. The grant helped WindReach build a greenhouse on the property and expand its staff compliment, – including a program coordinator, horticultural therapist and a horticultural technician – to help reach more participants, cover key gardening program supplies and administrative costs, and introduce a quality-of-life evaluation tool to ensure the program has the life-changing effects WindReach Farms strived to deliver.

In late 2019, WindReach Farm received a second OTF grant, this one focused on the capital project.

WindReach Farm is a 105-acre accessible farm that uses a natural environment to provide therapeutic programs to individuals of all abilities in Durham Region. Founded in 1989 by Sandy Mitchell, the farm has grown over the last 30-plus years from an accessible farm with a day visit program to an organization that serves thousands of individuals each year through its therapeutic programs for people of all ages and abilities.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector.

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