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Portaging for Portage: A physical challenge for a good cause

'Anyone and any business has the opportunity to make a change'

ELORA – red canoe has been spotted in the streets of Elora to raise money for youth mental health.

James Scott, the owner of the Elora Paddle Company, is portaging a canoe up and down Metcalfe St. in support of the Portage Elora Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Centre for Youth. The event is called Portage for Portage.

With a canoe resting on his shoulders, Scott is portaging on Saturday and Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The idea came to Scott a couple weeks ago and is now thinking of turning it into an annual event.

“I canoe a lot, I portage a lot, so I thought it was something that I could do to support the community,” said Scott.

This non-profit organization supports people dealing with mental health and addiction issues in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. In Elora, Portage specifically supports youth dealing with mental health and addictions, which Scott said is a good program.

“A lot of things I do is to help youth, so I have another business where I work with youth in a sports setting,” said Scott, "and just giving kids the confidence is just the most rewarding feeling, and I can't even imagine how it would feel to free someone from substance addictions."

Helping Scott to collect donations is Ashley-Ann Maginnis, the development manager at Portage in Elora. On Saturday, Maginnis was out with a blue flag with the words ‘Portage’ on the back and a canoe paddle with a yellow bucket to collect donations.

“It’s important to let them know about the resources available to them,” said Maginnis about why these events are important for helping youth experiencing mental health issues during the pandemic.

While he admits an hour is a pretty long time to portage, Scott is hoping not to take any breaks. To help him, he attached a piece of foam inside the canoe to rest of his head and shoulders.

“It’s definitely just a mental game,” he said, "and your upper back will get really sore."

Scott hopes his portage will inspire other people to come up with their own ways of helping others. Since deciding to go through with the event, he has already raised $485 and counting.

“Anyone and any business has the opportunity to make a change,” said Scott.

Those who are interested in contributing to Portage for Portage can go online to portage.ca to make a donation with a mention that the donation is for the event.