Rick Hansen Foundation Fall 2016 Newsletter

Renee By Renee On October 17, 2016 RHF News

The latest updates on the programs at the Rick Hansen Foundation for Fall 2016.



Jump to section:

1. Message from Rick
2. Building a More Accessible Canada
3. Be a Barrier Buster!
4. Focus on Meaningful Access
5. Safe Drive for Satwant
6. Quality of Life Program Update
7. Good Vibrations – John’s Journey
8. Together Campaign
9. Sign Up for E-News!

For our readers with visual impairments, you can download the accessible version of the Newsletter.

Message from Rick: Leaving a Lasting Legacy for all Canadians

Rick and the crowd
Our journey towards an inclusive and accessible Canada continues with an exciting announcement. The Foundation is rolling out our national Access4All Canada 150 Signature Initiative, in partnership with the Government of Canada. Launching in late September, Access4All will leave a lasting legacy by raising awareness and removing physical barriers in communities across the country in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. 

In 2017, we are also marking the 30th anniversary of the conclusion of my Man In Motion World Tour. Celebrating Canada’s 150th and our 30th anniversary highlights the importance of our continued efforts to remove physical barriers to accessibility in all the places where we live, work, and play. 

You can read more about Access4All in this newsletter, including how you can help to identify and remove barriers to accessibility in your community. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Our collective efforts in the coming months and beyond 2017 will go a long way to ensure that Canadians of all abilities are living to their full potential.

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

Access4All: Building a More Accessible Canada 

Students discussing group project, funded in part by the Canadian government.
Exciting news! The Rick Hansen Foundation’s new Access4All Canada 150 Signature Initiative encourages youth and community leaders to identify physical accessibility barriers in their communities, create volunteer teams to remove them, then raise awareness and celebrate projects with community awareness events. We’re calling these “Barrier Buster” projects. With support from the Government of Canada, the Foundation plans to fund a minimum of 50 large-scale Barrier Buster projects and associated accessibility awareness events in communities across Canada. 

Access4All will create greater accessibility in our communities – and inspire community leaders and volunteers, including the next generation of champions, to make our world accessible for people of all abilities.

How Does Access4All Work?


  1. An Access4All toolkit including an Accessibility Checklist and sample projects is available at www.rickhansen.com/access4all to help community leaders identify accessibility barriers and ways to remove them. The Rick Hansen School Program curriculum also now includes a special Canada 150 Educator Resource to help educators teach students about the importance of access and inclusion and take on accessibility improvement projects.
  2. Community leaders are invited to host a Rick Hansen Ambassador presentation to learn about the importance of accessibility and inclusion directly from someone with a disability. Visit www.rickhansen.com/Ambassadors to find out more and book a presentation. 
  3. Schools, community organizations, registered charities and other qualified donees as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (www.cra-arc.gc.ca) can apply for a Barrier Buster grant of up to $30,000 for accessibility infrastructure improvement projects and an associated community awareness event. Visit www.rickhansen.com/access4all for more details and to apply for a grant today.

Access4All: Be a Barrier Buster!

Three women with different disabilities chatting.
Rick and the Foundation team are thrilled to partner with the Government of Canada on our new Access4All initiative to help make our communities more physically accessible for people with disabilities. And you can be a part of this initiative!

Volunteer Barrier Buster project teams will help remove physical barriers to make our public places more accessible. Projects can range from building an entrance ramp, making doors or washrooms more accessible, adding Braille to signage, to building an accessible playground for children of all abilities.

Once a barrier to accessibility is identified, youth and community groups are invited to “bust” it! If you’re connected to a school, community centre, municipality, or registered charity and want to bust a barrier, your group can apply to the Rick Hansen Foundation for up to $30,000 in funding for infrastructure improvement projects and associated awareness event celebrations!

Here’s your chance to be a Barrier Buster! To learn more, visit www.rickhansen.com/access4all and download helpful resources like an Accessibility Checklist to help your group identify physical barriers and a sample Barrier Buster project list to help you get started. Let’s make Canada barrier free! 

Access & Inclusion: Focus on Meaningful Access

Group photo, with two people using wheelchairs.
Thanks to your support, the Access & Inclusion team is working hard, developing accessibility programs to encourage government and the many industries involved in planning, creating, and constructing our buildings and public spaces to break down physical barriers in the built environment and help people with disabilities reach their full potential.

Creating a more accessible and inclusive society is truly a collaborative effort. Recently, the team brought together leaders from construction, real estate development, engineering, architecture, municipal planning, and code consulting to participate in two focus groups, in Vancouver and Toronto. 

Rick Hansen and VP Brad McCannell educated these leaders about how improving accessibility in the built environment in Canada is essential to removing barriers for people with disabilities. Rick and Brad introduced participants to two of our developing programs: Certification (a rating system to assess building accessibility and help building owners, developers, and operators measure accessibility requirements) and Accreditation (a training and examination system to ensure buildings being reviewed are assessed using a consistent methodology and to provide businesses the confidence that the assessors are well trained).

Participants shared valuable feedback to help these programs create greater impact. Working together, we can further Rick Hansen’s original vision behind his journey – to remove barriers for people with disabilities. You’re helping to make this happen – thank you!

“Meaningful access is based on real inclusion. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It addresses the real needs of the community.”
Brad McCannell, VP Access & Inclusion

Quality of Life: Safe Drive for Satwant

Woman sitting in the driver's seat in a car.
As a paraplegic, Satwant Guron admits the road she travels as a person with a disability isn’t easy. But navigating the streets and highways in her community is less difficult now, thanks to a Quality of Life grant from the Rick Hansen Foundation; grants that are funded by supporters like you. 

The Quality of Life grant helped Satwant replace and upgrade essential equipment in her 17 year-old van. The new six-way seat, hand controls, and spinner knob not only gives Satwant greater mobility, but ensures her older-model van will stay safe and reliable to drive.

“I live on a fixed income,” says Satwant, “and the grant was imperative in helping me keep my independence. Words can’t express how grateful I am. What a great way to start the new year!”

Quality of Life Program Update

People shopping in the market.
The Quality of Life Program is currently on hiatus so that the Foundation team can create impact for a larger number of people with disabilities through our new Access4All Canada 150 Signature Initiative. We will update you in future newsletters about the Access4All initiative as well as the status of the Quality of Life Program. If you have questions, please reach out directly to Renee Eaton, Director – Community Giving at reaton@rickhansen.com or call 1-778-296-1550. Thank you! 

Research: Good Vibrations – John’s Journey 

Two photos: On the left, a man and a woman standing in front of a vibrating platform; On the right, the man and the woman are chatting
Over 75% of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) suffer from spasticity, a condition causing muscle spasms, pain, fatigue, and many other complications. For John Chernesky, this increased muscle tone and stiffness feels like “you’re trying to drive with the parking brake on,” he says. 

John, Lead for Consumer Engagement at the Rick Hansen Institute, is a regular at PARC – an accessible gym located in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre. PARC also provides opportunities for the SCI community to connect with researchers at ICORD. John approached ICORD Principle Investigator Bonita Sawatzky, with his idea to study whole body vibration therapy, thought to stimulate muscle activity and build strength and possibly reduce the impact of spasticity. 

Dr. Sawatzky and her team placed John and other study participants on a vibrating platform two to three times a week, allowing them to pick the frequency, amplitude, and amount of time. John’s results were dramatic: “I was taking some steps with the parallel bars and I felt like I didn’t need them, so I let go and walked.”  This was John’s first independent step since his car accident. The experience improved his confidence in his daily activities. John is co-authoring a paper on this research area. 

Thanks to supporters like you, innovative SCI research continues to make breakthroughs!

“Everyone who works here has dedicated their careers to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. If they’re going to make my life better, the least I can do is help them make my life better.”
John Chernesky, Lead for Community Engagement,
Rick Hansen Institute

Teamwork: Together Campaign

Rick and staff at the Rick Hansen Foundation with a cheque of $26,956.56
Every employee at the Rick Hansen Foundation chooses to work in the non-profit sector to help make positive change through our daily work. We love what we do. But we also know that each of us can choose to deepen our impact. 

Inspired by supporters like you, RHF staff created the Together Campaign. 

The goals of this staff campaign were to create informed staff ambassadors for our cause, build an atmosphere of enthusiasm and pride, encourage participation, and invite co-workers to consider making a gift. 

The Together Campaign was a truly inspiring experience for RHF staff. Run by a volunteer committee of staff members (who in turn successfully mobilized an additional team of volunteers), the Together Campaign helped all staff learn more about our work, encouraged staff participation through mini-events, and raised money for the cause. 
The results were amazing! 87% of the RHF staff participated in the campaign (the national average is between 30-50%) and together we raised $26,956.56 – exceeding our fundraising goal! 
Here is what campaign co-chair Karolina Lindberg said about why she wanted to be a part of the campaign: “The Together Campaign was a very important initiative to me. I am proud to work at the Rick Hansen Foundation and was happy to have an opportunity to give back, to help remove barriers and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. I believe that it is crucial that staff understands the impact of the Foundation’s work. Throughout the campaign our focus was always about participation and not about how much to give. Having said that the Campaign committee was overwhelmed by how well staff responded to the campaign and I believe we created a remarkable legacy together.” 

Our team thanks all of our supporters for inspiring this staff campaign. Working together we can remove barriers for people with disabilities!


We would love to keep you updated on the innovative work you support. Sign-up for e-news to receive updates by Rick, news about program innovations, and so much more!

If you read something that inspires you, please share it. Sharing information and knowledge helps raise awareness, and when we’re aware, we can change the world!

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

About the Author

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

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