Therapy programs for local residents with autism received support recently, thanks to a $4,000 grant from District 45 EstaRIO of RTOERO (Retired Teachers of Ontario). The money is going to Regroupement Autisme Prescott-Russell (RAPR) to cover costs associated with pet therapy, music therapy, adapted physical activity and outings.

The District 45 funding is part of RTOERO’s annual community grants program. Since 1968, RTOERO has been a voice for teachers, school and board administrators, educational support staff and college and university faculty and staff in their retirement.

Each year, districts apply for grants to support community projects. In 2022, RTOERO funded 22 projects for a total of $87,471.

The RAPR programs offer broad benefits. Pet therapy helps participants to reduce stress, better manage their anxiety and lift their spirits. Music therapy often contributes to the relief of certain symptoms of autism, and can improve task-focused attention.

Adapted physical activity helps participants to increase energy levels, improve concentration and other brain functions, and improve sleep quality and digestion. And outings offer a chance to develop social and motor skills, in a community setting, through structured group activities.

“People with autism often face negative attitudes and exclusion. All of these services improve their quality of life,” says Suzanne Poudrette-Gagnon, President, District 45 EstaRIO, RTOERO.

Since the inception of the community grants program 22 years ago, RTOERO has donated $1.9 million to more than 525 programs and projects. A committee of RTOERO members assesses the merits of each grants submission.

District 45 EstaRIO includes French-speaking members from Prescott-Russell. There are 82,000+ members in 51 districts across Canada, making it the largest provider of non-profit group health benefits for education retirees.