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Kat Walk to benefit Assistive Technology Centre

by Robert Hirtle

Twelve-year-old Amelia Ekins, pictured with Assistive Technology Centre Society board chairwoman Barbara Welsford, will join Bob Sayer in leading this year's Kat Walk through Mahone Bay September 11.
 MAHONE BAY - Amelia Ekins can communicate today thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the efforts of the Assistive Technology Centre Society (ATCS).

 Amelia, a 12 year old with a captivating smile, was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by a chromosome imbalance that affects the mental and physical development of an individual.

 Last year, the Assistive Technology Centre provided her with an IPod touch, a device which, when equipped with a new program called Proloquo2go, helps Amelia and others like her communicate more effectively.

 With the new technology, she can introduce herself by conveying her name, age and where she lives along with other information that might be relative to the circumstances.

 "I use assistive technology when I communicate," she explains. "My IPod touch helps me talk."

 Assistance such as Amelia received is only part of what the Assistive Technology Centre Society does to provide services and support to enhance the functional capability of people with disabilities.

 It is an ongoing process which began when the not-for-profit society, operating with a volunteer board of directors, began supplying specific support for clients up and down the South Shore back in 1993.

 Six years ago a major fundraiser was established to help raise money to increase and improve the services provided by the society.

 "Kat in the Bay" originated as a one-day kayaking experience in Mahone Bay which saw participants raise funds through pledges and other related activities. It was not long before a walking element was added to the annual event to allow those non-kayakers a chance to participate.

 Now known as Kayak or Walk for Assistive Technology, or Kat Walk, the event will once again take place at the Mahone Bay town wharf September 11 from 4 to 6:30 p.m., with the festivities later moving to the Mug and Anchor Pub where a silent auction and door prize draws will be held, with entertainment being provided by Slow Cooking Cover followed by Paul MacLellan and Load of Fish.

 ATCS board chairwoman Barbara Welsford says this year's walk will enjoy an added twist, as Mahone Bay's resident "know-it-all" Bob Sayer will lead the procession in a lighthearted walking tour throughout town, with Amelia at his side.

 "A number of people will paddle, collect sponsors or make a donation, and if the weather co-operates we'll paddle to the Welsford deck in Oakland for a little refreshment and then head back," she says.

 Those who prefer not to walk or paddle can join the festivities at the pub where a minimum $10 donation garners a ticket on a draw for a number of special door prizes, including photos, paintings, other artwork and a variety of gift certificates.

 Anyone donating or collecting $50 or more will be eligible to win their own IPad.

 Over the past five years, Kat Walk has raised over $60,000 for the Assistive Technology Centre Society, and Amelia hopes that success will not only continue but improve during this year's event.

 "Help me help other kids with disabilities," she says.

posted on 09/07/10
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