BIG Hearts, the charitable foundation of Billyard Insurance Group (BIG), is proud to announce that it has sent Ava Nolan, a student within the community with Down syndrome, to college.
In partnership with G-Mc’s Homies with Extra Chromies, a not-for-profit that focuses on providing social, health and wellness, educational opportunities, and positive public awareness for people with Down syndrome in the Niagara Region, BIG Hearts has helped pay for a scholarship for Ava to attend Niagara College. The 19-year-old student from St. Catharines has enrolled in the college’s Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) program and loves every moment.
“Ava continues to demonstrate incredible determination and spirit, proving that the sky is the limit for her,” said Tracey Nolan, Ava’s mother. “Her eagerness to learn and build a community is evident every day she attends college. This scholarship has been instrumental in allowing us to further advocate for inclusivity and to champion Ava’s rights and dreams of achieving meaningful employment and relationships within her community.”
This unique two-year program is designed to provide individuals with disabilities and learning challenges the opportunity to experience college life and enhance their employability, academic, and social skills through hands-on classes and field placement opportunities. Following completion of the program, students receive an Ontario College certificate.
Funds for the scholarship were raised through multiple initiatives and events; however, a large portion of the money came from golf tournaments BIG Hearts and G-Mc’s Homies with Extra Chromies each hosted this past June.
“We are extremely proud that BIG Hearts can contribute to such an amazing cause and help Ava attend college,” said Cindy Billyard, Executive Director of BIG Hearts. “My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has donated to our charity. Your generosity is creating real opportunities and transforming lives, and I am immensely grateful for the collective impact we are making together.”
“Since 2014, we have strived to create a society here in the Niagara Region where individuals with Down syndrome are seen not for their differences but for their abilities and contributions. Having the backing and support of a reputable name like BIG Hearts means the world to our small charitable organization,” said Blair Stayzer, Co-Founder of G-Mc’s Homies with Extra Chromies. “Our partnership allows us to make an even greater impact in our community and expand our reach. It is truly a privilege to have BIG Hearts by our side, and we are grateful for the trust they have placed in us to carry out our mission.”
To learn more about, partner with, or donate to BIG Hearts, please visit thebighearts.ca.
About BIG Hearts:
As Billyard Insurance Group’s charitable foundation, BIG Hearts raises financial support for vulnerable children across Canada. Through participation in charitable events and generous donations from sponsors and the community, BIG Hearts partners with child-focused charities that advocate for these children and provide support to their families.
About G-Mc’s Homies with Extra Chromies:
G-Mc’s Homies with Extra Chromies is a social, health, and wellness nonprofit organization providing exciting life experiences and educational opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome.