Windsor·Video

This fitness centre is designed specifically for people battling addiction, poverty

The Downtown Mission has a new fitness centre funded by donations from a Windsor family in honour of their grandson who battled addictions.

'You can walk into this room and it lifts you up,'

The Downtown Mission in Windsor has a new room with exercise equipment available to guests. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Cameron Robert Bell was a fun loving, charming man that trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a way to help battle an addiction. 

Now his name is cemented forever on a bronze plaque hanging inside a fitness centre aimed at improving the mental and physical health of people recovering from addiction in Windsor. 

"Cameron had some issues in life," said his grandfather, Robert Bell, a local retired doctor.

On Wednesday the family attended the official opening of the fitness centre at the Downtown Mission where they were thanked for their donation to the project. 

The Cameron Robert Bell Fitness Centre is designed by St. Clair College Students for people who use the Downtown Mission in Windsor. 0:58

"You can walk into this room and it lifts you up," said Bell, pointing out the bright, natural light flowing into the room and highlighting motivational posters on the walls. 

Bell said the centre is something that his grandson — who died last July at the age of 35 — would be proud of.

Robert Bell joked "we're broke now" after donating to help start the fitness centre in the Downtown Mission. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"When Cameron died we decided we were going to donate to charity," said Bell.

As Bell and his wife weighed potential causes, they took a tour of the mission with the organization's executive director Ron Dunn. 

"Almost as an after thought [Dunn] said 'In the future we would like to have a fitness centre.' That was Cameron. I knew right then this was a project we were going to support."

Fitness for addiction and mental health

"We know that physical fitness has a role to play in recovery from addictions and treatment for mental health," said Dunn.

He cited research that shows as a person's physical health improves so does their mental and overall health.

"I felt so overjoyed just to be able to see our hard work actually come to life today." - St. Clair student Arielle DiMenna

"I never met Cam," said Dunn. "But at the mission we know lots of Cams... Lots of Cams come through our doors — great people who are stuck in an addiction, in a conflict."

Cameron Robert Bell was passionate about Brazillian Jiu Jitsu which he trained in to help keep sober, according to his grandfather. (Mount Pleasent Funeral Home)

Dunn said that having the donation come from the Bell family shows a true sign of support while also offering a warning of how serious the temptations of addictions can be. 

"It's clearly a memorial plaque. Somebody has died," said Dunn. "And I hope that they ask us who he was."

Student run, donation driven

St. Clair College students with the Health and Fitness Promotion Program spent time with people using the Downtown Mission and asked what they would like to see at the fitness centre.

"We got to listen to their wants and needs and we really put that into consideration when we were designing the facility," said student Arielle DiMenna.

"I felt so overjoyed just to be able to see our hard work actually come to life today." 

Arielle DiMenna is one of the St. Clair College students who helped design the fitness centre to meet the needs of people at the Downtown Mission. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Students will also help prepare programs specifically tailored to guests using the fitness centre.

"Feeling welcome," said DeMenna, as she recalled specifically what people wanted to see at the centre.

"Mixing mental health with physical health and just having an overall picture of wellness."