Raising awareness, changing attitudes and removing barriers for people with disabilities in the built environment

Rick Hansen Public School Officially Opens in Aurora, Ontario with Inspiring Messages from Two Canadian Heroes

Published: April 18 2013

Commander Chris Hadfield Speaks to Rick Hansen and Canadian Youth from Space

Link to Video: http://youtu.be/lPBdibGsCNo

(Aurora, ON)– At the opening ceremonies of the new Rick Hansen Public School in Aurora, Ontario today, Rick Hansen, joined up with Canadian Space Agency Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield to inspire the youth in a video sent directly to the school’s 278 students from the International Space Station. 

“The opening of the Rick Hansen Public in Aurora is such an honour for me personally, as I continue my journey to encourage young people that there are no boundaries to their potential and to inspire them to make a difference in their communities,” says Hansen who attended his namesake school opening in person. “It has always been very important to me to inspire youth to make a difference in their communities, and I am very appreciative that the students,teachers and staff at the Rick Hansen Public School are committed to our shared values of determination, courage, strength, inspiration and hope. 

Hansen wished to share the video from Hadfield with youth to inspire the next generation of Canadian difference makers with the message that anything is possible. “To share this opportunity by bringing Chris’ message of inspiration and hope directly from the International Space Station makes this an historic day indeed.”  

Hadfield has a personal connection to Hansen.  A long-time supporter of Rick’s vision, he was selected to be a Difference Maker in Hansen’s 25th Anniversary Relay. Hadfield chose to take his Rick Hansen Relay medal to space as part of his Official Flying Kit when he launched to the International Space Station this past December. 

“This medal represents [Rick’s] core values of determination, courage, integrity, excellence and teamwork – the same values I had, to get [to space],” Hadfield noted in the video.  “Now I get to recognize those who helped me.  So I’m making the connection of one Difference Maker, Rick, to the next, me, and now,to everyone across the world, and in space.” 

Students, faculty, and administrators at the Rick Hansen Public School were thrilled to be the very first to view the video from space to commemorate the first official day of learning at the school, where students will be encouraged to lead a full life by making a difference by helping others. “From our very first day of school on September 4th, 2012, our students, staff and families knew that we could all make a difference in the lives of others, says Principal Steven Gardner.  “The words “Making a Difference” have become a cornerstone in all that we do at our school.  We are so proud to be associated with two global Difference Makers in Rick Hansen and Commander Hadfield”.

“Chris Hadfield is a true Canadian difference maker who continually inspires me when he speaks of the ability we all have to make a difference, believe in our dreams and to take the chance to explore the limitless potential of the human experience,” says Hansen. “I dream of one day being the first person with a disability in space.”

Hadfield, who arrived at the International Space Station on December 21st, 2012, is the first Canadian Commander of the Station. He is expected to return to Earth’s surface on May 13th, 2013. 

Rick Hansen and his team have been raising awareness of the potential of people with disabilities through ongoing work to build an inclusive and accessible world while continuing to support research and programs to accelerate cures for paralysis after spinal cord injury (SCI). The opening of the Rick Hansen Public School in Aurora marks the fourth school across Canada to have been named after Hansen in order to commemorate his work, which began during his Man In Motion World Tour between 1985 and 1987. 


For further details about Rick and RHF, and for general press inquiries, please contact Dan Enjo, Communications Specialist, at 778-296-1571, or by email at denjo@rickhansen.com

Link to Video: http://youtu.be/lPBdibGsCNo