Support for students with learning disabilities expanded through OTF grant 

Source: Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton

By Saeed Akhtar, Local Journalism Initiative, The Milton Reporter

As Covid-19 affected education of children and adults alike around the globe, people with learning disabilities were at a bigger disadvantage due to the fact that people suffering from such impairments already have a difficulty in performing their daily activities.

Canada was no exception to this and government initiatives helped organizations to do more for such students.

In 2021, the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton (LDAHH) received a $70,400 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), a government agency.

LDAHH is a registered nonprofit organization that works to provide education to people with learning disabilities, all the while advocating for more initiatives for such people.

With OTF’s support, LDAHH has adapted their program delivery from in-person to online, and has built their fundraising capacity to respond to increased demand for service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s so important for students with learning disabilities to learn in the ways that work for them so they can reach their full potential,” said Jane McKenna, the MPP for Burlington.

A 2021 study in the British Medical Journal found that people with learning disabilities, if they contracted Covid-19, were five times more likely to be admitted to hospital. This underscored the urgent need for stepping in to reduce the burden on the health system, saving precious lives, and to maintain the routine learning path for people with such impairments.

“Since the pandemic began, LDAHH has tripled their programs, reaching nearly 10 times more students. The funding provided by OTF has helped Alison and her team support students with LDs to get back on track so they can go to college, university or enter a career in the skilled trades”, said McKenna.

While the government funding supported LDAHH in its operations, it also worked to make its funding more sustainable by launching a fundraising plan and several other initiatives.

“This grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has provided support that our community of students and parents urgently needs,” said Alison Brindle, Executive Director of LDAHH. “As students with LDs continue in-person learning, we’re ready to provide them the support they need and recuperate learning loss that has occurred during the pandemic.”