Haliburton County’s campaign to provide online connectivity to youth in need says the effort is still necessary even with students returning to school this week.

Point in Time launched its “Are You In?” campaign Jan. 16, intent on providing connectivity to 150 youth in the community who lack it. It has already raised more than $85,399, including a $25,000 County contribution Jan. 27, toward a $180,000 fundraising goal.

That target is based on a calculation to provide internet time for 150 families for one year. The campaign was inspired by students struggling to learn in the pandemic because of poor internet connections. Point in Time executive director, Marg Cox, said even with students returning to in-person lessons Jan. 25, there is still a need to help them.

“The lockdown is still in place. So, in order for youth to be able to access services, connect with their friends, be able to access mental health support, primary care information – in order for people to stay physically distanced, the connectivity really plays a role,” Cox said.

The charity seeks to address the urgent need in the short-term. To do that, it is using funds raised to provide phones with data plans to students, though Cox said they are exploring alternatives for areas where that may not work.

The effort has reached out for both community and municipal support. Cox said she is hopeful they can get close to their goal with help from both sources.

“You don’t ask, you don’t know, and what we do know is that youth in Haliburton County deserve a level playing field,” Cox said. “Internet plays a huge role in people being able to do research, submit their assignments, whether they’re doing in-class learning or online learning.”

Organizations have begun donating, with local lake associations donating $3,000 and the Haliburton and District Lions Club $1,000. Cox said even with vaccinations on the horizon, both the pandemic and the need for improved connectivity will linger.

“There is a real need for youth and others in our County to have access,” she said.

To donate, visit pointintime.ca.

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