Rick Hansen Foundation 2015 Spring Newsletter

Renee By Renee On May 1, 2015 RHF News

What is new with the Rick Hansen Foundation this Spring?


Click to jump to section:

  1. Help shape the future!
  2. Employment and Access Matters!
  3. Planat
  4. Join us online!
  5. Philanthropy at Work
  6. Inspiring Youth: School and Ambassador Programs
  7. Innovations You Funded in 2014
  8. Your Impact
  9. Karen’s Story: Seeing the Possibilities
  10. Preventing Life-Threatening Complications
  11. Celebrating 30 years thanks to you!
  12. Accessibility Survey



You can also download the [EasyDNNnewsDocument|7].



Help Shape the Future!

Photo of Rick Hansen.

I met a young man recently who is doing great things to prevent bullying in schools. He has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, which means he undoubtedly faces barriers every day. When asked about a barrier he would like removed, he answered, “how people look at disabled people.”

His reply reminded me again about invisible and visible barriers.

Invisible barriers will disappear when people change the way they think and talk about people with disabilities. We need to ask ourselves, is someone viewed differently if they use a wheelchair or walker? Do we believe that someone with a vision or hearing impairment could be less competent at their job? Attitudinal barriers like these need to change. And you can be a part of this change.

Visible barriers will disappear when inclusion and accessibility are at the core of our laws, building codes, company policies, education systems and innovations. We need to teach businesses that being accessible makes economic, as well as social sense.

Thanks to your support, my team is working hard to find solutions to address barriers so that people with disabilities reach their potential and live the life they want and deserve.

Your newsletter highlights the solutions your gifts are supporting and the ways you’re helping to shape the future. Together, we can achieve our vision: an inclusive world where people with disabilities are living to their full potential.

You can help shape the future. I invite you to take our short anonymous survey on how attitudes and accessibility affects your daily life or the life of a loved one. You can find the survey on the last page of your newsletter. Please fill it out and send it back to us.

Thank you for being a part of my team. Here’s to a happy, healthy and barrier-free 2015.

Rick Hansen, C.C., O.B.C.
CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation





Employment and Access Matters!

Photo of the Rick Hansen Accessibility Team.

Our team started an exciting Job Creation Partnership with the BC Government. The goal of the Accessibility pilot project is to help BC business owners complete accessibility evaluations of their public venues and add this information to the Planat web site. They are also directed to resources that can cost effectively support changes to improve accessibility. Employing a diverse and talented team of people with disabilities, the project provides meaningful employment and skills training, as well as much needed accessibility information for BC residents and visitors. Initially, the project will focus on the Lower Mainland, with hopes to expand throughout BC in 2015.





Screenshot of the Planat website.



The Rick Hansen Foundation is working hard to make the world more accessible to everyone. Planat is an online tool that allows you to search and review the accessibility of places worldwide.

Please visit Planat at www.planat.com to learn more about how you can help to create a world that is accessible to all.






Join us online!

You can also be part of the conversation about solutions. Our blog, Facebook and Twitter platforms feature articles, posts and videos about disability issues and innovations related to barriers. They’ve started some fascinating con-versations – please join in!

Simply visit www.rickhansen.com and click the Blog button. New articles are posted twice a week. And while you’re there, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.




Philanthropy at Work

Photo of Mott Electric, 4th Utility and MTI executives presenting a check to Rick Hansen.

On the first Friday of each December, the staff and leadership at sister companies Mott Electric, 4th Utility and MTI take part in their unique “Day of Giving” campaign. Employees commit to donating one hour of pay (some donate an entire day or two!) to support individuals, non-profits and charities that staff recommend to their charitable committee. The companies then match the dollar value of each employee’s donation of work hours – which doubles the impact!

In 2014, employees from the three companies donated 1,039 hours – a 30% increase from 2013! With the companies’ match, they raised a total of $97,697, helping 25 charities and non-profits and many local individuals and families.

The Rick Hansen Foundation was honoured to be one of the charities selected for the 2014 Day of Giving proceeds. Designated to the Quality of Life Program, the donation is helping a 15 year old boy with cerebral palsy who requires 24/7 care. With help from RHF and other funders, the renovation project is now complete! The boy and his care team now have a multi-purpose room for sleeping and physical therapy including a special bed, ceiling lift and therapy table! From all of us at RHF, thank you Mott Electric, 4th Utility and MTI!



“When you think about what [donations] can buy for people in need, it’s huge. Our donations put food on the table, buy clothes for families who have been stranded by fire, give support to kids with special needs, buy medicine, provide counseling… the list goes on and on,” says Rob Brett, CFO at Mott Electric.




Inspiring Youth: School and Ambassador Programs

Photo of Rick Hansen Ambassador Luke Anderson presenting to students.

Young people in Canada want to create a better future. The Rick Hansen School Program team are helping them do just that.

One of the key ways to change attitudes and remove barriers for people with disabilities is to raise awareness with young people. And you’re helping to make that happen!

The School Program team partners with students, educators, schools, and other organizations eager to work with young people. We provide free resources to support teachers and schools to:



  • Embed the principles of equity and inclusive education in the school setting
  • Help all students perform to the best of their abilities by supporting a culture of inclusion
  • Cultivate social skills such as leadership and team-building
  • Build stronger communities by teaching students to value diversity and support their community to be inclusive and accessible
  • Inspire and empower youth to make a practical difference by being involved in local projects





The innovations you funded in 2014


  1. Introducing bilingual versions of teaching resources making the Program accessible to Francophone and French Immersion schools.

  2. Collaborating with the Canadian Paralympic Committee to develop teaching materials exploring the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games which have been used by over 300 schools.

  3. A pilot project with 10 RCMP officers teaching leadership and mentorship skills to 250 students in Richmond, BC who will go on to undertake projects to make a difference in their communities.

  4. Trained 25 Rick Hansen Ambassadors representing a range of disabilities to share their inspirational stories with student audiences in Vancouver, Toronto and Regina.





Photo of participating students in the Rick Hansen School Program.

Deloitte LLP conducted a national survey of educators involved with the Rick Hansen School Program in 2014 and found that:



  • 100% of respondents saw positive change in student perceptions of, and willingness to interact with people with disabilities after introduction to the program.
  • Over 70% of teachers agreed that participation in the program resulted in:
    • Decreased bullying in the classroom
    • Student initiatives to improve the classroom, school and/or community
    • Increased volunteerism
    • Students believing that they can be difference makers, and
    • Willingness to help others, e.g., peers with disabilities
  • 90% of principals agreed that empowering students to create positive changes in their communities is a top priority for their schools.
  • 85% of respondents noticed an improvement in student attitudes and perceptions of disabilities as a result of the program.

With donors such as you, and corporate sponsors like Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, we can reach an even greater number of students across Canada with this innovative program.

Your donation helps young people create an inclusive world and make a difference in their communities. Thank you.





Karen’s Story: Seeing the Possibilities

Photo of Karen with her family.

Karen developed a spinal cord injury (SCI) at the age of 15. “I woke up one morning with a very sore back and a half hour later I lost feeling from the chest down. I was rushed to the hospital and after many weeks of medical testing and examinations it was eventually determined that I had a SCI as a result of abnormal blood vessels in my spinal column.” Despite the challenges Karen faced after her injury, she became a paediatric social worker, a passionate advocate, a wife and a mother.

“I think many people – including our families – thought it would be impossible for me to become pregnant,” says Karen. “Fortunately I work within the health care system so I knew to push past this obstacle. I was over the moon with joy to be told pregnancy was something we could look forward to in our future.”

To help address the possibilities for women with SCI, the Rick Hansen Institute supported a one-day workshop held in November 2013 and hosted by the Perinatal Interest Group. The workshop brought together experts in maternal fetal medicine, SCI rehabilitation and several women with SCI who have had children, including Karen. This is the start of a collaborative ongoing process for addressing the significant gaps in knowledge and services for women with SCI.



“I remind myself that for many people what we have done (having children) is different than the norm. Or what they thought was the norm. And that can sometimes be uncomfortable for them. Hopefully when they see our happy family they see all the possibilities rather than just the obstacles.”




Preventing Life-Threatening Complications

 Photo of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver, BC.

What if you or a family member had to travel a long distance to meet with a specialist? What if you were on a limited budget and the journey was difficult and exhausting? People living with a SCI see a number of specialists on a regular basis. If their appointments are delayed, it can cause life-threatening complications. But what if all you needed to make your appointment was access to the internet and a device the size of a credit card?

Thanks to you, top researchers including Drs. Mark Nigro, Lynn Stothers and Babak Shadgan at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, British Columbia, and Dr. Blayne Welk at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, London, Ontario are studying the impact of telehealth technology in bladder management for individuals with SCI.

Instead of a catheter, participating patients are using a small wireless device originally developed by Dr. Andrew Macnab which is taped to the skin over their bladder.The device is roughly the size of a credit card and uses light to monitor blood flow and oxygenation.

This work allows patients and doctors to conduct visits online from any location. Telehealth technology is saving valuable time and money, and helps to prevent painful secondary complications, such as bladder infections, from escalating. Thank you!





Celebrating 30 years thanks to you!

Photo of the Rick Hansen Foundation Team and Board of Directors celebrating the start of the 30th Anniversary.

March 21st, 2015 marked the beginning of the 30th anniversary of the day Rick Hansen and his team started the Man In Motion World Tour! Your support has contributed to better health outcomes and increased awareness for accessibility and the potential of people with disabilities. 

Join us in the next phase of the journey by creating a global movement to liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities. Thank you for your ongoing support!



Fill out a quick survey!

We’d love to hear from you about an important issue. How does awareness and accessibility affect your life or the life of a loved one? Please take a moment to answer this short survey and click "Submit" at the bottom of the form. All answers are anonymous.

(Please click here if you are on a mobile device.)







About the Author

Renee Eaton is the Director of Community Giving at the Rick Hansen Foundation.

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