Difference Makers are people just like you - everyday Canadians doing amazing things. This page will tell you more about just some of the wonderful Difference Makers out there. We hope they will inspire and motivate you.
Nominate a Difference Maker of the Year
Email your nomination (or nominations!) for a student or educator that has made your school or community a more accessible and inclusive place for people of all abilities. Nominations are open until May 4, 2020 and can be sent to email@example.com. Winners will receive a personal letter from Rick Hansen, a $100 Indigo gift card, and a Difference Maker of the Year Award Certificate.
“Leah Fumerton is the kind of teacher who makes a positive and lasting impact on her students and the teachers she works with. The concepts of growth mindset, resilience, and appreciating differences are part of her core values.”
Jas has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. Inspired by everything fellow wheelchair user Rick Hansen has done for accessibility awareness, Jas took initiative on his own awareness project to share with his school.
“Our entire staff would agree that the world would be a better place if we could add in a few more ‘Abbies’,” says Lindsey Bowkowy, a teacher from Brunskill Elementary, where Abbie Shynkaruk goes to school in Saskatoon.
Tyler was nominated for his efforts in organizing an “Inclusivity Week” at Munroe Junior High School in Winnipeg, but he’s quick to acknowledge that his colleague Desiree Penner deserves the award just as much as he does for co-organizing the activities.
For Sébastien Whissell, being a Difference Maker means being involved in his community to better the lives of others—without counting the hours or expecting anything in return. He also hopes that it means others will learn from his example and be inspired to make a difference. When it comes to difference making, the soon-to-be 11th grader is definitely a leader.
Renuka Senaratne was surprised to hear she’d won a Difference Maker Educator of the Year award from the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP). With all of the work she put towards inclusivity at Surrey’s Janice Churchill Elementary, the rest of her colleagues probably wouldn’t be.
For over 35 years, Schmidt has cared deeply for the community at Pembina Trails. She’s worked as a classroom teacher, a resource teacher, reading recovery teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. She is passionate about safe, caring, and inclusive schools.
Ava Koldenhof is making beaded angels to make a difference through local and international charities. Ava is the recipient of the Rick Hansen School Program Difference Maker Certificate of Excellence for her philanthropic efforts to make the world a better place.
A Rick Hansen-named school in Aurora strives to live up to its namesake every day. Two of its teachers are being recognized as Difference Makers of the Year for leading a Wellness Day that promotes well-being and inclusion.
Renai Moleman believes everyone has the ability to make a difference in their community and world. At Greater Gatineau Elementary in Gatineau, QC, she’s both a kindergarten teacher and member of an accessibility team implementing modifications to the built environment.
Carolyn West, a resource teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, believes it’s educators’ responsibility to mold their school into a community where all students can experience life to the fullest.
As someone who was born with cerebral palsy and a cognitive disability, Jordan has faced many barriers, but he tends to turn them into opportunities to create more inclusive communities. From a YouTube channel to volunteer work, Jordan's love of sports and his positive outlook have touched his classmates and inspired them to also make a difference.