Rick Hansen Ambassadors are helping to change public perceptions of various disabilities.
Rick Hansen Ambassadors are making an impact
Rick Hansen Ambassadors are making an impact
Above: Ambassador (and founder) Luke Anderson makes a presentation.

Many people have very few encounters with people with disabilities. It is not because of ignorance or avoidance, but rather because sometimes opportunities for meaningful engagement or encounters are not always available.

The Rick Hansen Ambassador program seeks to change that by connecting schools and other groups to people who are willing to speak about their experiences about living with a disability.

More than just people in wheelchairs

When the Rick Hansen Ambassador program gathered all its new presenters at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in early 2014, there was an active effort to include a wider variety of disabilities.

Many people know Rick Hansen and the Rick Hansen Foundation as being particularly prominent in the spinal cord injury community. However, to have a truly inclusive and accessible society, it was required to look beyond spinal cord injury and seek Ambassadors with other disabilities.

With this in mind, last year the Ambassador program sought to include people with conditions such as sight and hearing loss, and ask them to share their experiences with students and other groups – and help inspire them to make their communities more accessible and inclusive.

One partnership that the Rick Hansen Foundation made was with the Canadian Institute for the Blind, to increase the number of Ambassadors with blindness or vision loss.

That effort was recently highlighted on Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) in this video:

About the Rick Hansen Ambassador program

The Ambassador program includes a wide variety of people with disabilities who are able and willing to speak to students and other groups about their own experiences with disability. By sharing their stories, it is hoped that it inspires others to create or maintain a fully inclusive and welcoming community that is accessible for all.

The program works closely with the Rick Hansen School Program; many Ambassador presentations are made in elementary and secondary schools. However, it also provides Ambassadors for corporate, adult education, and other groups.

Interested in having an Ambassador at your event?

For more information on the program and to inquire about having an Ambassador present at your school or group, please see the Ambassador program's webpage.

About the Author

Arnold, also known as "Bucky," is the Production Assistant for the Rick Hansen Foundation. He is also a wheelchair basketball player and former middle school instructor.

Did this blog inspire you? Would you like to learn more about how you can get involved with our work?

Click here to find out more.