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

Inspired by a young difference maker, Tofield School raises funds through Significant Objects Experiment

An inspiring young student motivated her class to raise funds for the Rick Hansen Foundation through a simple but very original idea: an auction of insignificant items accompanied by a piece of creative writing. 

Not letting an injury get in the way of living life to the full

Sierra was a 16 year old Professional Women's Motocrosser, Tier 2 level soccer player, and ran 12 km a day. She worked with younger youth in mentoring, aspired to study Kinesiology at University and dreamed of the Olympics.


Then one day she had an accident and became a paraplegic. In her mum’s words she handled it like a trooper. In Sierra’s own words "it happened to me for a reason because others couldn't have handled it".

The Significant Objects Experiment

After her discharge from hospital, Sierra returned to school at full force. A few months later, her Grade 11 English class carried out a Significant Objects Experiment. Students complete a piece of writing about an insignificant object and then hold a silent auction to show the power of writing - an insignificant object becomes significant because of the story that is created around it.


The students get to pick the charity or charities that they would like the funds to go toward. Students propose options, present about them, and then vote as a class. Sierra proposed the Rick Hansen Foundation because of her personal experience with a spinal cord injury, and her contact with the Foundation after her accident. When the class voted, the Foundation was chosen as almost everyone's first pick.

A Rick Hansen Ambassador helps to inspire students

The Foundation arranged for Bryce Clarke, an Ambassador from Edmonton, to speak to the school before the event. Bryce recently became the second quadriplegic in Canada to become an RCMP Detective. He told students his story focusing on the importance of attitude and perseverance. His presentation taught students more about spinal cord injury and the work of the Foundation, and helped get the word out about the event. Bryce also travelled to the school a second time for the night of the auction to answer questions and help people better understand where the money would go.


“In my opinion Bryce Clarke's presentation was one of the highlights of the night!” says Lindsey Kossey, the teacher in charge of this fantastic initiative. “Bryce was so gracious to travel out to Tofield in the middle of winter on a snowy night to come and speak to us. He put the audience at ease as he spoke about his own experience and the work of the Foundation. … I highly recommend him as a speaker and enjoyed getting to know him!”

A fantastic result

The auction raised over $400, which was donated to the Rick Hansen Foundation. We would like to congratulate all the students involved with this unique and interesting project, and thank them for helping us to make the world more inclusive for everyone. We wish Sierra every success in her future endeavors; with her determination and drive we have no doubt that anything is possible for this inspirational young lady.


“Thank you so much for your interest in helping us! Any chance to get the students actively involved in the world around them is a great experience!

Lindsey Kossey, Tofield School, AB


Find out more about how funds raised are
changing lives

Brandon Brubacher
An adaptive adult tricycle allowed him
to enjoy exercise

Renee Lamont
A home renovation gave independence        
and supports rehabilitation


Brandon Perger
A sports wheelchair opened the door to
a social world of sport

Eva von Flotow
An all-terrain wheelchair meant freedom
to see friends and enjoy the outdoors

Sierra inspires others

The Forgotten Marker, one of the auctioned items

Bryce, a Rick Hansen Ambassador, speaks to students

“It’s wonderful that students can care about others and want to help where they can.”
- Dorothy Brubacher, Brandon's mom, ON

“It is often the seemingly minor things that make a huge difference. Our thanks go to the Rick Hansen Foundation and all of the generous donors who help those in need."
– Lynn von Flotow, Eva’s mom, YK

Find out about Abilities In Motion, our program to support disability awareness, accessibility and inclusion in schools across Canada.

Please contact us if you want to register
or find out more about the Rick Hansen School Program:
schools@rickhansen.com or 1.800.213.2131.