ELORA – For the second year, Portage Ontario will be holding its Pedal for Portage event virtually – “hopefully for the last time,” said Ashley-Ann Maginnis, manager of development at Portage Ontario.
This is the fourth year for the fundraiser and in normal times it would be a one-day event, with participants coming to Elora to cycle for the cause.
This year it will be held from Sept. 12 to 18 and participants can walk, run or cycle in their own neighbourhoods – or even on a treadmill indoors – alone, as a family, or with a socially-distanced team.
People can set their own physical goals, but the overarching goal of the event is to raise awareness and $35,000 for Portage.
“Keeping ourselves active is important for mental health and addictions,” Maginnis said, adding the fundraiser is a good fit with the work done at the centre.
The Portage Elora is the only facility in Ontario that offers support for youth with addictions in a residential program.
Normally the centre can accommodate up to 80 youth aged 14 to 18, but because of COVID-19, capacity has been reduced to 40 residents at a time. That’s created a backlog, Maginnis said – one they hope to address as vaccination becomes more widespread and COVID restrictions ease.
Portage offers a six-month residential program and then 18 months of aftercare for its graduates.
“Aftercare is so important,” Maginnis said.
“Being at the centre, they learn they are not the only one. We teach 21 competencies, like learning to express themselves appropriately, being self-aware, and learning to ask for help.”
Cost to participate in Pedal for Portage is $25 for an individual and $50 for a family but there is no obligation to raise further funds, although it’s certainly welcome, Maginnis said.
And for families taking part, explaining to children what the event is for can be a great way to begin conversations about self-esteem, dependencies, personal safety, risky behaviour, and where to get help.
“When children understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, they learn a lot about helping, about your values and about giving back,” Maginnis said.
Anyone interested in participating in Pedal for Portage can register online at pedalforportage.ca.
Participants are also asked to post photos to #P4P2021 and they’ll be posted to an online gallery.