Donor Steps Forward to Support #becauseofBALANCE Campaign!

With just 12 days to go in our extremely successful campaign to build awareness of our clients’ successes and raise funds to support our excellent programs, a wonderful donor has come forward to make us an offer we can’t refuse! Every dollar raised through the campaign, from now (October 30, noon) until the end of the campaign (November 11, midnight), will be matched by this incredibly generous donor! This means that if you donate in the next 12 days and 12 hours, you will double the impact of your donation! To read our clients’ stories, spread the word, or make a donation easily, please click here. OR, call our office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and ask for Eleanor.

BALANCE offers year-round Strength and Stability training program!

BALANCE is pleased to announce that we have established a partnership with Davenport-Perth Community Health Centre in order to bring you an excellent Strength and Stability Fitness Program, tailored to meet the needs of blind or partially sighted person who are over 40 years of age.

Description: A great way to improve your physical fitness, this class provides an opportunity to improve cardio, strength, flexibility and balance while sitting down. It includes a brief standing falls prevention component. Taught by Fazia Ackbarali, a fitness instructor certified by Western University’s Canadian Centre for Active Aging, and the BALANCE yoga instructor, this is a pre-beginners level that will progress to beginners/intermediate level.

Day and Time: Tuesdays, call the office.

Location: Please call the office

Dress: Please wear comfortable clothing such as track/yoga wear, and sneakers.

Pre-registration/Intake: 416-236-1796, ext. 0. Pre-registration is required!

Cost: No Charge.

 

Because of BALANCE!

BALANCE for Blind Adults is a community-based service organization that, for the past 32 years, has been providing clients in Toronto who are blind or visually impaired with instruction and support. Our staff aim to help clients achieve their personal goals related to technology, mobility and orientation, and daily living. BALANCE recognizes that each client goal is unique and is able to customize support accordingly.

That’s the BALANCE difference.

Everyone in the BALANCE community has a “Because of BALANCE” story. In fact, it’s the most common thing our staff hear, expressed as gratitude and appreciation. Many of our clients don’t know how to express their gratitude in a meaningful way, so the BALANCE team is trying something different. With a donation in honor of the BALANCE difference, clients and their networks can make a gift of gratitude that benefits staff, clients, and future clients alike. 

In honor of World Sight Day, from October 11 – November 8, BALANCE is excited to announce that we are launching our first ever peer-to-peer campaign!

The Because of BALANCE campaign is being led by incredible individuals including clients and staff members, who are each sharing their own “because of BALANCE” stories in support of BALANCE’s programs and services. You can reinforce an individual’s unique journey by supporting one of BALANCE’s many fundraisers. 100% of the proceeds will directly support the program work and dedicated staff who deliver them. In 2017-18, we provided 155 group sessions!

BALANCE relies on Ministry of Health dollars (through the Toronto Central LHIN) to cover general expenses, but when it comes to expanded group programs, enhanced technology for our training centre, and professional development opportunities for staff, BALANCE relies on grants and donations.

We hope you will join us in this new exciting adventure so that BALANCE may better serve the unique client base who come to us every year for programs and services. Thanks in advance for making a difference in the lives of people who live with vision loss and are learning technology skills so they can have the game-changing experience of equal access to information and independence.  

Please visit this link to support.

Thank you in advance for your support and participation!

Students Say Thanks and Good-Bye, Summer, 2018

What we have learned this summer at BALANCE for Blind Adults has far exceeded our expectations.

As students who aspire to have careers in health care, our experiences have broadened our perspectives and knowledge of working with individuals with vision impairments. With the help of the staff and clients at BALANCE, we have become more cognizant of various barriers and as such, strive for inclusion and accessibility in our future career, as well as personal lives. We feel empowered to become advocates for people with vision impairments by educating others about opportunities to create more inclusive communities.

Prior to working at BALANCE, we had very limited exposure to working with individuals with blindness or low vision. It was a big learning curve and it hadn’t occurred to us that there had been so many advancements in the field of low vision and blindness. We realize that every day we take for granted the tools that many people with visions impairments rely on for independence. Just to name a few; Google Home, Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. As well, one of the main learning takeaways from this experience is that the key to a meaningful life is having connections in the community. We have learned that through partnerships with various organizations we can better support our clients and achieve that goal.

As sighted people, we have become more aware of existing features in our community that promote independence and safe travel for people with vision loss. For example, pedestrian crossing activators and the tactile bumps in subway stations. By being more aware of these necessities, we can play our part in reporting to authorities when these tools are not functioning and/or assist someone, if they wish.

We encourage students to apply for positions at Not- for-Profit Organizations because you will be surrounded by some of the hardest working, dedicated and kind people in existence. It is evident that the staff at BALANCE work as hard as they do because they truly care about making a difference in their clients’ lives. Thank you to the staff  and clients at BALANCE for teaching us all that you have and showing us the importance of working with passion and the impact that you can make on someone else’s life.

 

Sam and Tal

Welcome to Naomi Hazlett, Occupational Therapist

Naomi is smiling and is outside under the trees.
Naomi Hazlett

We are pleased to welcome the newest addition to our staff team, Naomi Hazlett, MSc.OT. Naomi brings a wealth of relevant experience and creative energy to the position.  She is a recent graduate of the occupational therapy program at the University of Toronto, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cognitive science, also from U. of T. She has a wide variety of interests and passions including health & wellness, accessibility, education, research, writing, and promoting mental health in all areas of life. Naomi’s strong recreation/leisure background and her deep knowledge of Toronto community and neighbourhoods, will provide BALANCE with added expertise to support, encourage and teach our clients.

A Year in Review

Our Executive Director Writes About her First  Year on the Job

While I am a bit delayed in posting this, I did indeed write it in April, one year after starting my new adventure in this excellent work place and learning space. Thanks for reading!

One year review:

When I started at BALANCE on April 13, 2016, it was a small organization with a strong commitment to clients, and quite frankly, my initial impression was that BALANCE was an organization that placed clients first, and the staff gave me strong messages that they were looking forward to having my leadership, and hopeful for a great deal of positive growth. I had a lot to work with: the offices had just moved to a new location right across from a subway station; the funding oversight had shifted from the Mississauga-Halton LHIN to the Toronto Central; and we had a shiny new strategic plan (finalized in May/June 2016) from which to develop our plans moving forward.

To say the least, it has been a year of growth and learning, both for the organization and for me. We have generated a positive relationship with our new LHIN, a new source of revenue through a first partnership agreement with Accessible Media Inc., and strong relationships with Reconnect Mental Health/Reconnect Shared Services, LAMP IT services, the Toronto Reference Library and the University of Toronto Occupational Therapy Department, as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital departments, OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre, and others. We have also received two federal grants, one to install automatic door openers on our front doors, and one to hire our summer student through Canada Summer Jobs. In addition, we have developed the strength of the staff as a team, adding three creative new staff members to our small but mighty group. Finally, our client numbers have grown by 50%, with a total number seen in 2016-17 of 151 (we had 101 clients in 2015-16). Our group participation also has increased, and BALANCE is now a going concern, with clients coming and going 5-6 days and evenings most weeks, for a variety of group opportunities.  To illustrate, in the spring of 2016 we had 21 group sessions and 11 individual participations and in the winter of 2017 we had 61 group sessions and 235 individual participations in groups!

I remain grateful for the opportunity to lead in such a warm, welcoming and exciting organization. We continue to serve our clients, and I believe our efforts play out in the number of new and returning clients we have seen this year. Each month, the number of clients returning for service after some years away, has remained high, averaging around 7 per month. One cannot ask for more than an enthusiastic participant who has heard about our new programming or our new instructors, and wants to return. We have certainly been busy and we have been able to provide some unique new programming. The challenge for year 2 of the Strategic Plan is to sustain and grow this activity while achieving a great deal more towards the strengthening of our infrastructure, the realizing of efficiencies and the generation of new revenue streams for BALANCE.

I look forward to the challenge!

 

New Assistive Tech Instructor at BALANCE!

BALANCE Welcomes Rosie Arcuri to Our Staff Team

With a degree in Psychology and five + years working in the community sector with people with disabilities, Rosie is passionate about helping the visually  impaired achieve their goals.  After working as a Program Coordinator for Independent Living – Montreal (IL-M), she is excited to bring her Vast teaching experience to Balance. Rosie has experience with adaptive technology in both her personal and professional life. As someone with a visual impairment, she has firsthand knowledge of both the helps and hindrances of assistive technology. Furthermore, she has been able to pass on her insights to clients through her work with the Adaptech Research Network at Dawson College and IL-M.  Rosie has also been involved with the Blindness community for years as a member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Montreal chapter’s executive board, and she has been a support group animator for the CNIB. She has also worked with people who have other disabilities, such as students, seniors, immigrants, and job seekers. Rosie is bilingual in French and English, and can speak Italian.