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Alberta’s Health & Lifestyle Magazine for People with Spinal Cord Injuries & Other Physical Disabilities

Winter 2012

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327


Winter 2012 Volume 27 Number 1



16 Singapore & Kuala Lumpur by Electric Wheelchair

The Editor, Spinal Columns Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 (780) 424-6312


In the News


Meet the Staff


CPA (Alberta) Advocacy

Opinion 19 From My Perspective Dan Palamarek’s adventures abroad continue. FEATURE STORY

15 Accessibility & Code Compliance

Sports 22 Snow Mountain Prince 23 Calgary’s SCI Fitness Centre 24 Sledge Hockey Health 25 Top Five Supplements 26 Mental Health & SCI 27 Healthcare Evolving, Part 2 Community 28 From Chairs to Change 29 Election Time 30 Shell Marks IDPD 31 Change Needs Leaders Regional News 32 What’s New in Alberta Aboriginal 37 Promoting First Nations Culture In Our Library 39 Cooking with Cory

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327

ISSN 1195-5767

Letters to the Editor

Recognition 14 Passing on the Torch

Material printed in Spinal Columns may not be reproduced without written permission from the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). We neither endorse nor guarantee any of the products or services advertised within Spinal Columns. Readers are strongly urged to thoroughly investigate products/companies before purchase. Spinal Columns is available in alternate formats by contacting our office as listed above.

Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, AB T5H 4B9 E-Mail:


Innovations 10 Surfing for Solutions 12 New Products for You

Editor............................ Betty MacIsaac Layout/Design.............Kyle Thompson

Spinal Columns is published four times a year by the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). Advertising rates available upon request. Ideas, submissions, requests, suggestions and letters are always welcome. Address them to:

4 Editorial The Alberta SCI Initiative

Ron Wickman explains why accessibility goes beyond minimum code compliance. Spinal Columns




e are rapidly moving towards completion of the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Initiative (AB SCI Initiative), the collective name for the extensive collaborations and projects as a result of the Rick Hansen 20th Anniversary Proposal submitted to the Government of Alberta in 2007. This proposal was informed by consultation with the research and clinical care community, wheelchair sport and recreation groups, CPA (Alberta) staff and Board of Directors, The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation and individuals and their family members personally impacted. In reflection of the last five years, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional cooperative effort that took place in the spirit of impacting quality of life of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other physical disabilities. I would like to highlight some examples of this impact. Translational research – a number of projects have been funded which will impact acute care and rehabilitation treatment in the future. Some of these research projects involve the study of best practices across four provinces: BC, AB, ON and QC. For a more complete description of research projects, visit our website in July to view the 2011/12 Annual Report for the AB SCI Initiative. Solutions that work – a major focus of the Initiative was to implement Solutions identified by the SCI Alliance, a volunteer committee made up of committed Albertans from across the field of SCI, including a number of persons who live with disability resulting from SCI. Support to the Alliance, the many volunteer task teams, implementation of solutions, collection of outcome data, and financial tracking was managed by CPA (Alberta) as part of the role of Secretariat to the five year initiative. Solutions included: Granting program – 298 grants to meet priority needs (ie. renovation for accessibility, transportation, continuing education, technological supports, fitness/wellness). 90 grants to organizations to deliver enhanced or new programs for persons with SCI and other physical disabilities. Provincial strategies were developed and implemented related to active living, housing, attendant care, and adaptive technology. New resource materials – including online resource guide, online accessible housing registry and accessibility assessment tool, comprehensive research project and report produced by University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design entitled “Understanding Visitability for the Alberta Housing Context”. Materials also developed to assist persons who use intermittent catheterization to manage their “Bladder Health” and for health care professionals regarding “Treating Frequent Bladder Infections”. Brochures were complemented by background paper on best practices. An evaluation of supportive housing models conducted and new models for community use developed and supported by business case. Builders award will be launched to promote accessibility and visitability. CPA (Alberta) capacity increased which allowed expansion of community development and service coordination. Peer support capacity increased through funding of two peer program coordinators. These are just some of the solutions that created positive impacts over the last 5 years!

Teren Clarke Executive Director

4sSpinal Columns

Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) Toll Free: 1-888-654-5444 Find us on Facebook and become a fan! Watch videos on our Youtube channel: HEAD OFFICE #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 Telephone: (780) 424-6312 Fax: (780) 424-6313 E-mail: Executive Director: Teren Clarke SOUTHERN DISTRICT OFFICE 5211 4 Street NE Calgary, AB T2K 6J5 Telephone: (403) 228-3001 Fax: (403) 229-4271 E-mail: RED DEER OFFICE #103, 4719 - 48th Avenue Red Deer, Alberta T4N 3T1 Telephone: (403) 341-5060 Fax: (403) 343-1630 E-mail: GRANDE PRAIRIE OFFICE 10 Knowledge Way Grande Prairie, Alberta, T8W 2V9 Telephone: (780) 532-3305 Fax: (780) 539-3567 E-mail: LETHBRIDGE OFFICE 1274 3 Avenue South Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0J9 Telephone: (403) 327-7577 Fax: (403) 320-0269 E-mail: MEDICINE HAT OFFICE 26-419 3rd Street SE Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 0G9 Telephone: (403) 504-4001 Fax: (403) 504-5172 E-mail: ST. PAUL OFFICE Box 653 St. Paul, AB T0A 3A0 Telephone: (780) 645-5116 Fax: (780) 645-5141 E-mail: LLOYDMINSTER OFFICE 4419 52 Avenue, Lloydminster, AB T9V 0Y8 Tel & Fax: (780) 875-1046 E-mail: FORT McMURRAY Gregoire Park Centre 194 Grenfell Crescent Fort McMurray, AB T9H 2M6 Tel: (780) 743-0307 Fax: (780) 743-4563 E-mail: WEST-CENTRAL OFFICE PO Box 128 Wabamun, AB T0E 2K0 Tel: (780) 892-3431 Fax: (780) 892-3431 E-mail: CPA (Alberta) BOARD OF DIRECTORS Aaron Miller, Chair Dale Williams, Past Chair Scott Sankey, Treasurer Maxwell Brunette Lisa Crown Harvey J. DeCock Kent Hehr Bill Hendsbee Timothy Hill Martin Purvis Ray Royer Ned Shillington Eleanor Sugarman





Both Alberta and Edmonton are pioneers where accessibility and facilities for people with disabilities are concerned. This is why I was disappointed and upset by the events that happened to me at Edmonton’s main library branch. Before a renovation two years ago, the front entrance was serviced by a very functional ramp. This was removed and replaced by a mechanical lift so that room could be made to expand the children’s library. It was poorly planned and decreased accessibility to the library. On August 19th 2011, I went to the library to attend a meeting. Previous trips always involved bringing my daughters, so I never realized how these so-called renovations impeded access to those they were supposed to be helping. I arrived with no way to access the lift on my own. I am unable to let myself onto the lift and operate it independently. I waited five minutes before a security guard came close enough for me to flag over. When he approached, he told me to “go around” to the adjoining Second Cup. I reminded him that passage was locked at this time and he said he’d unlock it for me. I went to the other side of the library building, arriving to find the doors to the café were closed. I waited. And waited. Finally, a café employee noticed me and let me in. I felt guilty as I sneaked through and said thanks for the deed, as I had no intention of buying anything from him at that time. I was let into the library and told the guard that I needed him to unlock (another) elevator so that I could get down to the basement for my meeting. He suggested, (after an identical conversation ten minutes before) that I use the mechanical elevator instead. I had to re-explain that I couldn’t operate a manual elevator and he eventually led me to the main elevators so I could go to the basement. I went to my meeting and half-way through, the fire alarm went off and everyone was told to evacuate. Others attending the meeting wondered how to help me since the elevator can’t be used during an alarm. I told them that I would go out through the one accessible exit from the basement which exits to the underground parkade. When I got to the door, I was surprised and shocked to find that the door was locked. I returned to the lobby to find no one there. I couldn’t access the elevators and there was no other way out. I managed to grab the security phone and, despite the piercing noise of the alarm, was able to tell security that I was in the basement. For the third time in less than two hours, I had to go through the spiel about not being able to operate the manual lift. He told me to wait beside it and he said he’d come down to get me. So what happened when I then needed to get down three steps to leave the building? Once again, I had to argue with security to help me.

Not only was the one direct exit locked, but not a single person came down to verify that the basement was empty. After I contacted them, the library’s suggestion is that I go WAY out of my way to use one of their other fine facilities instead. Notwithstanding that the main library branch is the one which hosts the Library Access Division, it’s also within walking distance from my home. This is unacceptable under any circumstance and in the 5+ months since then, nothing has been done to address these issues. Laura Hello, I have only just recently been introduced to your resource guide online. It is excellent! Throughout my years at the MS Society, I have been attempting to create an accessible online resource (specifically for internal use). We currently have all of our resources printed and in a binder, but I feel like having it online, similar to a database, would be so much more accessible. Would you be willing to share with me the program that was used to create this? Thank you so much for your help. Sincerely, Cassy Lawson Community Outreach Coordinator Edmonton and Capital Region, MS Society of Canada Ed.: The CPA (Alberta) used ?WHAT PROGRAM? to develop our online resource guide. Apologies: Please note correction to title of article by Dan Palamarek. Title should read “Istanbul by Electric Chair.”

Client Services Evaluation Survey Each year, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) conducts a survey of its clients to gather their feedback on the quality and impact of the services they have received. The survey supplies information that helps CPA (Alberta) to improve existing programs, scale back those that may have less value or impact, and design new ones. Read more about the survey at

Have something on your mind you’d like to talk about? Need to let people know something important? Want to give us feedback on a specific article, or Spinal Columns as a whole? Send us your comments to and we may publish it in an upcoming issue! Spinal Columns





Test Adapted Computer Equipment

If you don’t know the difference between a head mouse and a roller ball, or if talk about gigs and apps sends you into spasms, then it’s time to give CPA (Alberta) a call. Thanks to funding from the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Initiative, CPA (Alberta) has acquired six portable adapted computer stations that are available on loan through its various offices. The purpose of the loan program is to give people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other physical disabilities a chance to test-drive various types of adapted computer equipment before they purchase their own. Staff at six offices have been trained to use the equipment and are available to deliver it, set it up and assist users with troubleshooting. So far, about five people in the province have taken advantage of this opportunity since it first became available in the fall of 2011.

Albertans and will help individuals on AISH enhance their quality of life.” (Press Release dated February 10, 2012).

Whitehorn CTrain Station In May 2010, construction began to upgrade the Whitehorn CTrain Station in Calgary. The upgrades included lifecycle maintenance; enhancing the functional and aesthetic features of the station; replacing and extending the platform to accommodate future four-car CTrains; and enabling customers access to the south end of the platform. Construction was completed in October 2011 and Whitehorn CTrain Station reopened. Station upgrades also improved accessibility with the south end level crossing, a public elevator, increased number of accessible parking stalls on the south end, improved lighting, and enhanced visibility from the outside of the station as well as within the station. The Whitehorn CTrain Station was the first of a number of stations on the northeast LRT line to be upgraded. Although construction will be specific to the needs of each station, the purpose for the upgrades is consistent, and will further enhance Calgary Transit’s ability to provide efficient and safe public transportation.


There are a variety of gadgets available to try, including a laptop, head mouse system (a mouse that can be operated by moving your head), a roller ball mouse, tracking pad, adapted keyboard and voice recognition software. With practice, individuals with very limited mobility can learn to type and access the internet. The current loan period is 6 weeks to allow users enough time to become comfortable with the equipment. To help individuals obtain funding to purchase their own equipment, CPA (Alberta)’s Client Services Coordinator, Kris Janvier, is compiling a list of funding sources which he will post to the Community Resource Guide on CPA (Alberta)’s website at For more information and/or to arrange a loan, contact your local CPA (Alberta) office or call Kris at (780) 424-6312, ext. 2234; or toll-free at 1 (888) 654-5444.

Edmonton’s Disabled Adult Transit Service (DATS) is proud to offer DATS I-Book, a brand new online booking tool for its clients. This tool was launched in 2011 and enables users to book reservation trips online using the Internet, during regular booking hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, clients are able to view trips and cancel trips, if needed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes trips that have been booked both online and by telephone through the DATS Customer Care Centre. Clients also receive automated confirmation e-mails for trips booked and cancelled on DATS I-Book. There are just over a hundred clients currently using I-Book, and this number continues to grow monthly.

Government Increases AISH Benefit The Government of Alberta announced that effective April 1, 2012 the maximum AISH living allowance will increase from $1,188 to $1,588 and the employment income exemptions will double from $400 to $800 for single clients and from $975 to $1,950 for families. “A healthy society looks after its most vulnerable,” said Premier Alison Redford. “This increase reflects the compassion of


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I-Book also gives clients the ability to view their pick-up and drop-off locations on an interactive map and features a tool for viewing subscription or recurring trips and same-day trips. Clients can also manage their own profile and keep information

inthenews up-to-date. They can also request a DATS registration form or a DATS I-Book username and password by contacting the DATS Customer Care Centre at (780) 496-4567, Option 3 or e-mailing them at DATS clients can use the DATS I-Book ‘Help’ feature to learn how to use DATS I-Book through a step-by-step process. Alternatively, if you are interested in booking a DATS I-Book demo for your group or facility, call DATS Customer Care Center at (780) 496-4567, option 3. If you are interested in using DATS I-Book, you can request access online at www.datsibook.

CPA (ALBERTA) ANNUAL REPORT CPA (Alberta)’s 50th Anniversary Annual Report 2011 can be found at

IN MEMORIAM The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) would like to recognize the following individuals who have recently passed on. Lance O’Soup Edmonton Beatrix O’Heureux Lac La Biche Jeff Orr Elk Point Helen Paisley Edmonton If you would like to make an In Memoriam donation, see page 23.

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Staff Profiles

Jessica Jean joined CPA (Alberta)’s Calgary office as an Aboriginal Services Coordinator in May 2011. She was born and raised in Lethbridge and moved to Calgary in 2007. She graduated from the Lethbridge College Child and Youth Care program in 2001 and moved into a position as a youth counselor for many years with teens who were in crisis and/or had addictions including working at the Blood Tribe Youth Ranch in Standoff, Alberta. Jessica also worked as a 1:1 support staff for adults with disabilities and/or mental impairments, including severe behavioral issues for 5 years before coming to CPA (Alberta). Jessica feels that all of her past experiences have led her to her current position. She loves being part of the bigger picture and working with aboriginal individuals living on reserve, as they are isolated and often not able to access the same services as those in the city. It is a very rewarding experience to be able to bring services to them that can improve their quality of life.

Jeff Dow joined the CPA (Alberta)’s Red Deer office in August 2011, as a part-time Client Service Coordinator. What he likes most about the job is the flexibility that it gives him to continue with his schooling. It also helps him meet new people with disabilities to whom he can relate and learn from which, in turn, allows him to help others. In Jeff’s spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, going camping and playing video games.


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Wanda Seifried is one of CPA (Alberta)’s newest staff members, having joined the Red Deer office in September 2011. She lives in Red Deer, but her work as a Client Services Coordinator (CSC) takes her out across Central Alberta. Wanda comes to CPA from a health care background; she has previously worked in nursing, long-term care, and emergency medical services. Since she, as a youngster, had aspirations of being Hot Lips Houlihan from M*A*S*H, it is perhaps no coincidence that she ended up in the health care field. In addition to her work as a CSC, Wanda is also active in her community, volunteering in her children’s school and as a Girl Guide leader. Wanda comes from a military family and this may be why she loves to travel and is always on the go with her husband and three children. She loves the great outdoors and enjoys everything from skating to camping.

Angie Barron has worked at CPA (Alberta) for two years in a variety of roles: she started out working on the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event, and then took on the role of Special Events Coordinator, before settling in her current position as Fund Development Coordinator. She is a proud Maritimer, born and raised in Nova Scotia, where she also received her B.Sc.. She worked for Easter Seals Nova Scotia for ten years, followed by one year with the NDP, working as the provincial election coordinator for Nova Scotia’s 2005 election. After moving to Alberta with her husband Robert in 2005, she took a position at EmployAbilities before coming to CPA (Alberta). Angie’s current position has her overseeing direct mail campaigns, grant acquisitions, and special events. She is also responsible for bringing a smile to everyone’s face.


ADVOCACY Over the last few months there have been a number of new initiatives or existing initiatives that are moving ahead. CPA (Alberta) has been very active in trying to improve community access for persons with disabilities. We have also been working on the development of expanded housing options for persons with disabilities:

Boyle Renaissance Project Recently, drawings were finalized for an affordable housing building on 95th St. and 105th Avenue in Edmonton that will include 32 adapted suites and 58 non-adapted suites. The designs, while fairly compact, make good use of floor space and innovation. Groundbreaking ceremonies are slated for the third week of March 2012. Plans include new and innovative technologies that will be available for individuals with disabilities. Mike Holmes of the TV show “Holmes on Homes” has been very involved in the design of the complex. Partners in this building are the City of Edmonton, Métis Housing Corporation and CPA (Alberta). Anticipated completion is late 2013.

home can access the database to find out if a home is listed and if it meets their accessibility needs. The database will be provincial in scope and managed by the Calgary Accessible Housing Society. Look for an announcement in early May. In addition, a model is being designed that will illustrate one or two preferred options for the development of housing with a care component. It is hoped that this would be completed by May of this year.

Edmonton NGO Office Project CPA (Alberta) is playing a leadership role for a group of nonprofit agencies that work with people with disabilities in the development of an office building that would include up to 22 agencies. This project would include meeting rooms, lunchrooms, support services and enhance collaboration among the agencies. It would also be beneficial to individuals who want to access more than one service agency, saving them time and energy. A business case is now being developed and should be completed by June 2012.

Station Pointe Project CPA (Alberta) is working w ith Communitas, a nonprofit housing development group that would like to develop a property in Edmonton, close to the Belvedere LRT station. CPA (Alberta) is considering the development of one of the five apartments into an accessible affordable housing project. This project may have the ability to become a cooperative, ownership-based, rent-to-own including a rental housing project. The project will be designed to meet high environmental and sustainable principles. Communitas is hoping to achieve Net 0, which means that all energy used from the existing system will be replaced through internal methods. We are now looking for people who would be interested in working on this exciting project. If interested, please contact Larry Pempeit at (780) 424-6312 or

SCI Solutions Initiatives CPA (Alberta) and other community stakeholders have developed an award system and assessment tool for housing developers. It is hoped that this award will bring interest to the need for accessible housing and encourage developers to build more accessible housing. An official unveiling of the awards is likely in mid 2012. There will also be an online database that will allow individuals or businesses to list properties for rent or sale. This will include an assessment tool to assess the accessibility of their property. Individuals looking to buy or rent a

The help you want when you need it the most. Pipella Law Serious Personal Injury Lawyers Edward S. Pipella, Q.C., leads a legal team with over 70 years combined experience practicing exclusively in the area of serious personal injury law. Hemiplegia Permanent Disabilities Brain Injury Quadriplegia Paraplegia Multiple Trauma Free Consultation and Hospital Visit No Fee Unless Recovery Competitive Rates Assistance with Securing Medical Aid


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i nnovations

surfing for solutions This is a great example of a website built by a person with a spinal cord injury (SCI) for people with spinal cord injuries. It appears to have a very active and educated group of users who post questions and answers on topics affecting people with spinal cord injuries (SCI), and the website archives have a great resource of SCI information. The mission of this website is to promote the progression of adaptive adventure and outdoor recreation opportunities for individuals with disabilities. They envision a world where adventure and outdoor recreation is accessible and affordable for everyone with a disability. The pictures and video of the bungee jumping paraplegic girl alone make it worth checking out. CPA (Alberta)’s sister organization, the British Columbia Paraplegic Association (BCPA) recently launched their new and improved website which is a powerful, easy to use tool and resource for people living with spinal cord injury (SCI) or related physical disability, and their families. The site includes a new and improved SCI Information Database with informa-

tion on just about everything relating to living life with a disability—for example, housing, recreation and funding sources, to name a few—can be found. Another improved feature is the Swap N Shop, a “craigslist” type of service for people selling disability related equipment. The Disabled World Daily website is a one-stop shop for articles and news stories when it comes to living with a disability. Updated with new materials every day, this site can help you stay on top of the many issues that affect people with disabilities!

Moving up has never been easier. RAM Manufacturing Ltd. is a North American leader in the design and manufacture of vertical elevating products for residential and commercial buildings. We proudly manufacture the Trus-T-Lift and the UNI-VERS Crystal Elevator right here in Alberta. Trus-T-Lift’s smooth and quiet performance makes this light weight, dependable and versatile unit perfect for any residential or commercial application. The UNI-VERS Crystal Elevator can be installed in various two and three story homes and commercial buildings, such as schools, churches, apartments and senior citizens centres. Our lifts and elevators can be customized to accommodate new or existing buildings with little or no modification. Independent mobility is your connection to the rest of the world. It allows you to remain active, improving your quality of life. Here at RAM Manufacturing Ltd., we take your independence seriously, giving you choice and quality at an affordable price. CALL TOLL-FREE:



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i nnovations NEW



A Garment for Winter Excursions

Not Just an Ordinary Knife

A TrailRider is an excellent way for everyone, regardless of ability, to experience nature. But living in Northern Alberta means cold winters, and often less time on the trails. Stephanie Albrecht, a University of Alberta student in the faculty of Human Ecology, along with her supervisor Megan Strickfaden, an assistant professor with the faculty of Human Ecology are trying to change that. They are creating a clothing system that would provide warmth and protection from the elements for those who use the TrailRider so they can hit the trails in the winter.

The shape of the ulu ensures that the force is centered more over the middle of the blade than with an ordinary knife. This makes the ulu easier to use when cutting hard objects such as bone. If you have difficulty slicing and dicing or if you can only use one hand, the ulu can be a great addition to your utensils. Because the rocking motion used when cutting on a plate or board with an ulu pins down the food being cut, it is also easier to use an ulu one-handed (a typical steak knife, in contrast, requires a fork). Check out ulu at Cooking with Cory – see the book review in this issue – shows how the ulu helped him get back in the kitchen after a spinal cord injury. Check out Cooking with Cory at


Sitting in a TrailRider for an extended period of time in the winter can be cold and potentially harmful to the participant. Blankets or sleeping bags are the most commonly-used option, but they can be bulky, inconvenient and they are often not made of practical materials for the outdoors. Working with engineers, Stephanie is designing a garment that is easy to enter and exit, regardless of ability, and will allow the participant a warm, comfortable experience. The students from the Engineering faculty will place heat sensors in the prototypes to find out where the most insulation is needed. On Monday, January 23, as part of the University of Alberta’s ALES Week, Stephanie along with 11 other students from the faculties of Human Ecology, Nutrition and Food Science and Art and Design were able to get some hands-on experience with the TrailRiders, as well as some first-hand knowledge and ideas from the participants who use the TrailRider. Stephanie is continuing to develop the designs based off what was started by two students who graduated last year. She is hoping to have a prototype completed by April and ready for testing in September 2012. Needless to say, everyone is very excited for the prototype! Stay tuned for more information.


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Male catheter users have been calling for a more discreet catheter for many years. Now it’s here. Coloplast is proud to introduce the first truly discreet catheter for men – SpeediCath® Compact Male. SpeediCath® Compact Male is designed for discretion and practicality, both in and out of the home. Sleek, compact and both PVC- and phthalate-free, it’s less than half the size of standard catheters. This makes it easier to store, carry, use and dispose of in less noticeable ways. • Designed for discretion • Compact and practical, both in and out of the home • Can be inserted without touching coated section1,2 To be among the first to try SpeediCath Compact Male or for more information, please contact their consumer support team at 1 (866) 293-6349 or visit Know of a new or innovative product that you think other Spinal Columns readers would like to hear about? Send us a description and company contact information to and we may publish a profile in an upcoming issue!


Designed for discretion A compact and practical male catheter for use anywhere, anytime Considerably smaller than standard products, SpeediCath® Compact Male’s sleek, compact design makes catheterisation a more discreet process.1 • Designed for discretion • Compact and practical, both in and out of the home • Can be inserted without touching coated section1,2 Learn more and sign up for free samples at 1 2

Chartier-Kastler et al. Submitted (acceptance study). Bagi et al. Submitted (pilot study).

Coloplast develops products and services that make life easier for people with very personal and private medical conditions. Working closely with the people who use our products, we create solutions that are sensitive to their special needs. We call this intimate healthcare. Our business includes ostomy care, urology and continence care and wound and skin care. We operate globally and employ more than 7,000 people. The Coloplast logo is a registered trademark of Coloplast A/S. © 2012-01

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PASSING ON THE by Teren Clarke


n addition to his many other jobs, particularly as Director of Community Development, Larry Pempeit has been the Editor of Spinal Columns since its inception in 1983. Prior to that, Larry worked as Editor of a disability magazine called “The Spokesman”. Almost 30 years later, Larry has decided to try and lighten his workload and work part-time. Focusing on his other major interests over the years, accessibility and housing for individuals with disabilities, Larry says he will now work three days per week, but those who know him wonder if this will really happen. I am struck by the fact that Spinal Columns has provided a remarkable archive about disability in our province—including clients who tell their stories of struggle, perseverance, optimism; information about changing equipment and technology, various disability programs; the history of CPA (Alberta) and its staff and volunteers; and much more—due in large to the hard work of Larry Pempeit. Through tight budgets and various administrations, Larry was supportive and oftentimes tenacious in his support of the magazine and its readers. When money was tight, Larry sought additional funding from various programs, funders and sponsors. While articles were provided by various sources, he was often a “one man show”, ensuring a finished product reached your mailbox on a regular basis. Spinal Columns was oftentimes the only way to ensure many of our clients received the information they needed. Larry remembers, “After my spinal cord injury I found myself at loss as to what I should do with the rest of my life. Information that I could use to live in a world that was new to me wasn’t easy to come by. In fact quite often I could never find any worthwhile information.” “Before I joined CPA,” he continued, “I had the opportunity to work on a magazine that provided information to Albertans who have disabilities. The value of that magazine and the les-


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sons I gained from working on it made it much easier for me to convince the management of CPA (Alberta) at that time to take on printing of a magazine that would bring information and personal experiences of living with a disability to CPA members. I think one of my greatest accomplishments with CPA (Alberta) is the continued funding and printing of Spinal Columns. My hope is it will continue well into the future.” Even though Larry will be passing on the torch as Editor, we are happy he has agreed to continue as a member of the Editorial Committee so that we can continue to benefit from his vast knowledge and experience. He will also continue to provide regular contributions of “On Your Behalf” and “From My Perspective”, articles that we feel are thought-provoking and reflect some of the same feelings of many of our readers. It is interesting to note the following from our most recent Client Services Evaluation Survey: “Comparing rates of awareness with utilization, we can see that Spinal Columns and Wheel-E had the highest “uptake” – 88.9% of people who said they were aware of Spinal Columns also said they had read it in the last 12 months.” We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Betty MacIsaac as she moves from Assistant Editor to Editor of Spinal Columns. Farewell but not goodbye to our long time Editor!

SPINAL COLUMNS READERS In the 2011 CPA (Alberta) Services Evaluation Survey it was noted that “The three services that were best known were Spinal Columns (81.8% of people were aware of it), the CPA (Alberta) website (71.9% were aware) and the Peer Conferences (65.3% were aware). 64.5% of people had heard of CPA’s e-mail newsletter Wheel-E.”

feature 1



A This existing ramp met the code requirements at the time it was built 20 years ago.


The existing ramp ends right at the exit door. Therefore, the user must hope to hit the push button and then hope the door opens before he or she hits the bottom of the ramp.

number of years ago, I was asked to design modifications to an existing interior ramp. This ramp is over 18 meters long, and involves two 90 degree and one 180 degree turns. The landings are not large enough for some people in larger wheelchairs and scooters to make the turns. The 1/10 ramp slope is steep by today’s standards and does not meet the required 1/12 slope in the Barrier Free Design Guide. The ramp ends right at the exit door; again this does not meet code as there is supposed to be a 1500mm x 1500mm level landing before the door. Today, many people who use wheelchairs cannot get up or down this ramp. Finally, it was noted that some people who use wheelchairs were getting their feet caught in the vertical bars of the handrail, causing leg injuries. Where the term Barrier-Free Design relates to compliance with minimum codes and regulations designed to accommodate persons with disabilities, Universal Design relates to a design methodology dedicated to accommodate the broadest diversity and number of people who have to interact with the built environment throughout their life spans. We know that many more people use larger wheelchairs or scooters, therefore designers must look to accommodate such users and not just rely on the minimum standards of the Barrier Free Design Guide.



The modified ramp with an enlarged landing is larger than the minimum code requirements. The handrails were also modified to be a wall of stainless steel mesh.


The existing 1/10 ramp slope is steep making it difficult for those in manual wheelchairs to move up on their own.

Renovations have been made to help meet the Alberta Building Code requirement of today; however, the steeper ramp could not be altered, so technically this ramp still does not meet current code. Spinal Columns



Singapore& Kuala Lumpur by Electric Wheelchair by Dan Palamarek


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Dan Palamarek and his wife, Laurie.


raised floor bumps that lead to elevator locations. Metro waiting n December 30, 2011, my wife, Laurie, and I travplatforms were enclosed. elled to Singapore for a week, and then pushed on Singapore is thoroughly modern, with unique and surprising through to Kuala Lumpur for another week. On that architecture. It is very walkable; Laurie and I walked about 10 Friday evening, we flew WestJet, from Edmonton to kilometres a day. There is much to do and see: the National MuVancouver. That trip was uneventful. We then boarded a 2:00 seum, the Asian Museum, botanical gardens, Chinatown, Little am Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific has an India, the Arab Quarter, the Singapore Flyer (like the London excellent aisle chair that is stored on the plane and folds out easEye), and the Marina Bay Skypark (a ship perched atop three 57 ily to provide a safe, comfortable transition onto the plane. The floor hotel towers). There is a riverboat that travels the Singaflight was approximately 11 hours, mostly in darkness, and my pore River channel. We managed to find a level access point wife slept. The Cathay Pacific seats were cloth covered and comand hopped aboard straight from dock fortable; if they had been leather covered, then I probably would have sat on my Roho A local market was to boat. On the return, the Captain kept the boat in one position long enough cushion. The luggage and electric wheelbustling and full for me to disembark. It was all good chair went through cargo to Singapore, of fresh produce, fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the and I sat in a Hong Kong wheelchair for test. Laurie knew a school chum from the layover. Clearing Hong Kong security including durian her U. of A. days, and we were treated was an efficient and dignified event. Cathay to a great traditional dinner in their neighbourhood. Singapore Pacific took us from Hong Kong, straight south, to Singapore imports almost all of its food. An evening local market was in about 3 hours. bustling and full of fresh produce, including durian – which is Singapore is an island state on the tip of the Malaysian Penthe “King of Fruits”. insula. It is almost on the equator, and there always seems to In Singapore we stayed at the Novotel. The tap water was be a bit of an ocean haze to moderate the heat. It is protected drinkable and staff were excellent (maintenance repaired a lugfrom direct ocean forces by surrounding islands. Cathay Pacifgage caster that had broken). We had planned to take the train ic staff were courteous and helpful throughout. English was from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. So when we arrived in Singaspoken and used throughout the entire trip. Singapore airport pore, we used a wheelchair taxi to ride out to the Malaysian must be amongst the best, with a metro connected. The metro train station (not served by the metro) to check out accessibility was excellent, quiet with very little gap to get over. It used a and buy the tickets. Everything went fine and we rebooked the simple computerized token system. Your stop station determines cabby for the actual departure trip. The cabby failed to show at the fee and a token is provided for entry into the metro system. the appointed time. The Novotel staff managed to locate another On leaving, the tokens are returned back. Metro stations have

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feature wheelchair cab on short notice – always reconfirm. At the train station we zipped through Singaporean and Malaysian security. The train had an 18 inch gap between it and the platform, but a metal bridge was found. The ride from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is 6 hours. It travels through lush vegetation and simple village life. The train screams along, jostling its cars to and fro. It was worth every penny. Singapore, with a population of about 5 million, is organized and developed. Kuala Lumpur, with a population of 7.5 million, is less organized, less developed, but no less interesting. On pulling into the Sentral Station at KL, there was still a wide gap but no bridge. The wheelchair and I got carried off the train separately. The KL transit is Bombardier built. It operates much like Singapore; but like the Malaysian train, it screams through turns, strangely fitting into the more rough and tumble nature of KL. Places that are close to the transit can be accessible for wheelchair travellers. Places away from the transit are hard to get to. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, which was itself beautiful and accessible, but to get around the neighbourhood meant dodging traffic and looking long and hard for level’ish’ curbs. Yet an exciting and vibrant city, growing and developing constantly. As in Singapore, the people were always polite, helpful, and quick with smiles. We were able to visit a central Market, the National Square, City Hall, and the Petronas Twin Towers. We were unable to find a wheelchair taxi to drive us to specific sites. Laurie loved the shopping. As was the case in Singapore, the weather was warm and humid, but comfortable. We flew back from KL to Hong Kong. KL has an express transit line to the airport out of the Sentral Station. Again we put the luggage and wheelchair through to Vancouver. Upon arriving in Vancouver, my wheelchair had been damaged in flight. Luckily it was still operable. I filed a quick report with the Cathay Pacific counter in Vancouver. They did a visual inspection and gave me a tentative claim verification. Upon arriving in Edmonton and getting to the van, my seating position in my wheelchair was changed so much that I felt unsafe to drive from it. We came up with an alternative way to get home. Back at home, pictures were taken and a local assessment was done and emailed to Cathay Pacific. If airlines are unable to push a chair; then, in lifting, damage can occur. Electric wheelchairs should have clear labels on how to unlock the gears to allow rolling to occur. Southeast Asia is where many of the future’s stories could be written. It is rapidly developing its prosperity and its leadership. If the opportunity arises; please travel, explore, and share. P.S. In 2008, Laurie and I visited London, staying at the Novotel, in the Hammersmith district. I had planned to charge the wheelchair using a 110 volt AC to DC charger, and an offthe-rack 220 volt to 110 volt converter. The moment I plugged it all in, the converter failed and the charger went up in smoke. Undaunted, I went to the front desk, had them google wheelchair service centres, and returned to the room, armed with phone numbers and direction maps. In no time, I found a universal UPG battery charger that changes 100 to 240 volts of alternating current, into 24 volts of direct current. The universal charger cost 85 pounds, about 135 dollars. I have used it on all my trips and it works fine with any type of AC input. I have been unable to find it in Canadian shops.


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Dan enjoying the view from his hotel room.

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’ve always felt that one of the greatest contributions to my ability to be independent is the new technologies that are unfolding today. What is a luxury for some has become a necessity for me, saving many hours of frustration of possibly having to do without. I can only imagine how these technologies will improve my life and the lives of others who have a disability in the future. There are some technologies, however, that are now becoming a barrier for me where once I was independent. Over the last year I have noticed an increase in the way businesses manage their PIN pads. These little gems that made paying bills so easy are now becoming a barrier. Some stores are attaching them to fixed posts often well beyond my sight line and too high for me to punch in my PIN number. Grocery stores are my pet peeve, as I need to go there all time. Some stores only have two or three checkouts with lowered or detachable PIN pads. Great! That means I only have three choices. If two of those choices are closed, I end up with one. And if that happens to be an express line, (12 items or less) I have to find a clerk to open a till that has a lower machine. Occasionally, I’ve been in a line where I didn’t notice the machine was attached to a pole and unreachable. So I ask the cash-

ier to try to remove it but that can’t always happen. Quite often I’m asked if I would like them to enter my PIN number. While I appreciate the offer, I don’t want to announce my PIN number to everyone within hearing distance. At this point, I ask for the manager so that my bill can be moved to customer service, but sometimes that can’t happen and they have to open another till that is accessible. This is an inconvenience for them as well as for me and other customers. I’ve also found some businesses that have the fixed pin pad in the middle of the counter beyond my reach. Last week, I went to one business where it was mounted at the corner of the counter at the right height, but had shelving from the floor up, which prevented me from even getting close. This is an alarming trend for me. I was able to use my MasterCard when I couldn’t reach the pin pad but now, with the added security of card chips, most businesses use pin pads for credit cards as well. Another alarming incident happened at the gas station. I gave them my MasterCard and they insisted I come into the gas station and enter my pin number. That meant I had to find a parking spot and go into the store. Now, not only do I have difficulty finding a full service gas station, but I also have the added problem of finding one where I don’t have to get out of my vehicle. I think we need to stop this right now! Let’s start writing to these businesses to explain just how much of a hardship this is for all of us who have trouble using pin pads that are unreachable. That’s my opinion.

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Trying something new, SCI style by Kuen Tang


aking my own challenge after a wonderful experience with skydiving last summer, I decided to tr y somet h ing t hat I’ve a lways d ismissed because I thought I could never do it or enjoy it: downhill skiing. For a 6/7 quadriplegic without any trunk control, for the past 10 years, I had allowed my own misconception of my ability to downhill ski to cloud my judgment. With encouragement from my friend Matthew Hamer, whom I met on my hiking trip last summer, I decided to take the plunge and give downhill skiing a try. I asked myself, “Why wipe out on a small hill when I can wipe out, gracefully I hope, on a mountain?” It was a beautiful day in January, with sun covering all of Sunshine Village. The view was magnificent! As I drove on the winding road towards my destination, the sight of the snowy mountain, people carrying skis, and the thought of skiing for the first time, made my excitement hard to contain ... my smile could not be wiped off my face. My excitement was temporarily suspended when I got on the gondola. Darn, I’m still deathly afraid of heights and skydiving did not cure it. That excitement was reignited after I got off the gondola and saw the bi-ski that I would be using. Jamie McCulloch, the wonderful instructor from Rocky Mountain Adapted Sports Center, greeted me with a big smile; Robert Kennedy Jr., the Baldwin brothers, and many other celebrities may have also been on the hills that day, but I was too excited to notice; I was focused only on skiing. Things didn’t go as smoothly as expected: my ski jacket was left at the bottom of the mountain; I did not wear warm enough pants or shoes; the hill called Magic Carpet, intended for beginner skiers, dimmed my excitement because I kept falling. I started to question my ability to ski: going down my first hill with Jamie pushing behind and suddenly hitting a 35 degree drop, then an-


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other, shattered my courage. I was there to ski, however, to fully experience this sport, so I determined to give my best. I put on my best smile and told my two mountain knights (Matthew and Jamie), “Let’s do it again”! I was so glad I made that decision. I was skiing down the mountain with only some assistance the second time around, with Jamie tethering me from behind. A few minor wipeouts actually helped me to shake off my fear of heights. It was the fact that I was skiing with some independence that boosted my confidence even more and I was excited when Jamie suggested going up the Angel Run, 6500 feet up. Yahoo! as I passed the trees; Yahoo! x 2 as I was speeding up a hill; Yahoo! x 3 as I got some air time after going over a little jump; Yahoo! x 4 as I skied past the able-bodied skiers; Yahoo! x 5 as foam padding flew out from under my feet because I was going so fast. My level of excitement was incredible. Jamie yelled, “Turn, turn!” from behind me, to remind me to slow down. “But I like the speed,” I chuckled a little. “If Jamie can safely teach me, a quadriplegic plus directionally-challenged and left/right confused person to ski, then anyone can come to ski without fear!” Going faster and faster, past 60 km/hr, knowing Jamie was keeping me safe, I wanted more. I was so disappointed when we got down to the bottom, so we went two more times. I was determined to make up for the ten years of foolishness that my misconception had caused. If the sun had not gone down and the ski hill had not closed, I would not have stopped. As I drove away from the mountain the next morning, an overwhelming sadness came over me, like I had found the love of my life and had to leave him right away. I whispered, “This snow mountain princess will be back!” as I drove towards my home, my mind still skiing on hills in the mountains.


Welcome to the Calgary

SCI Fitness and Wellness Centre


ith the generous support of corporate sponsors, we have created and equipped the SCI Fitness and Wellness Centre at the Calgary office of CPA (Alberta). This new opportunity will provide individuals with spinal cord injuries and other related disabilities in the Calgary region with a place to work out in an inviting and accessible space with the support of knowledgeable staff/students. Our goal is to help you become as strong and healthy as possible. You can also connect with peers who share your fitness goals. The centre is equipped with a flat screen TV and sound system, two ceiling track/person transfer systems, accessible resistance equipment, floor mats, free weights, standing frame/ glider, argometer and more. The philosophy behind the centre is different in that all users will have unique needs that can be supported facilitating a wide range of fitness activities. Some participants will be participating in a research protocol to investigate the benefits of an intensive fitness routing related to

pulmonary function and quality of life. We hope that many of our members will take advantage of the new centre and this one of a kind opportunity in Calgary! Remember, we have ample parking, ample space for Access Calgary drop off and are located on a CTS route. If you are a person who lives with a spinal cord injury or related disability and require further information, or wish to obtain an application package to utilize the centre, please contact Marilyn Erho, Peer Coordinator, at (403) 228-7434 or marilyn.

If you would like to make an In Memoriam donation to the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta), fill out the form below and mail it to our offices.

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SLEDGE HOCKEY by Barry Lindemann



n Saturday, December 3, 2011, I ventured out to a place I hadn’t been to in years to watch a sport I’d never seen played live. The place was the new WinSportCentre at Canada Olympic Park. The sport was the exciting, fast paced action of sledge hockey. First let’s talk about the place. As a Calgarian, I remember skiing in this area on the Western border of our city when it was called Paskapoo Slopes. Fast forward 30 years and it’s hard to even imagine that it’s the same piece of land. It all started to change when the ski hill was incorporated into a project originally called the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA). CODA was founded in 1956 to bid on behalf of Calgary to host an Olympic Winter Games and successfully won the bid on September 30, 1981. CODA was then restructured to manage the legacy of the Games. Since then, the legacy of CODA has evolved into a new vision for Canada—WinSport Canada. The Association's original mandate was to ensure there would be continuing use of the Olympic venues after the Calgary Games. Committing the legacy of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games to the complete development of Canada's Olympic winter athletes and the organizations that serve them, WinSport Canada has now evolved into one of the premiere sport institutions in the world. What’s great is that accessibility has been incorporated into WinSport every step of the way. In fact, the 2011 World Sledge Hockey Challenge took place at WinSport because the new buildings and arenas were built with sledge hockey in mind. Played in the largest of the four arenas at the Markin MacPhail Centre, the International Arena, features more than 2,500 spectator seats and additional standing room for 500 viewers. The International Arena can be converted from its original size to a North American arena size and has all of the needed equipment and accommodations to play sledge hockey. Entranceways to the players’ benches and penalty benches from the ice are built


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flush with the playing ice so players can access them without the help of a coach or able-bodied person. Additionally, the surface area inside the players’ benches and penalty benches are made of smooth plastic or ice, to avoid damage to the players’ sledges. Sledge hockey was invented in the early 1960s in Stockholm, Sweden at a rehabilitation center and is now one of the most popular sports in the Paralympic Games. Essentially all of the regular ice hockey rules in able-bodied ice hockey leagues apply to ice sledge hockey - the differences are those necessitated by the ice sledge and the athlete. The first set of international rules was created in 1990 and was drafted from Canadian rules. The only rule unique to sledge hockey is teeing—which is charging an opponent using any part of the front radius of the sled. All players are required to have their ice sledge hockey equipment follow the standard set by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council Inc., including their sledges, sticks, helmet, skates (if applicable), and other protective gear. The sticks for ice sledge hockey players have a blade curved at one end similar to regular ice hockey, and generally six to eight metal teeth at the opposite end of the blade for maneuvering and propulsion. Movement down the ice is achieved by using the metal teeth to grip the ice and push oneself forward. It all adds up to an amazing spectator experience! As I mentioned earlier, I’d never seen sledge hockey played and man, was I impressed! From one of the many wheelchair accessible seating spots along the top row of the International Arena seating bowl, I sat in awe of the athletes with varying levels of disabilities who played and how fast they were able to shoot the puck and get around. In the end, the great news was that Team Canada won the game, the tournament and the gold medal! I, for one, can’t wait for the next big sledge hockey tournament to come to Calgary and I would encourage you to check out a game that may be coming to your community! Find out more at or



Supplements for People with SCI

by Kasey Holberton


y name is Kasey Holberton and I am a C6-7 incomplete quadriplegic due to a snowboarding accident in December 1999, and I have been working with CPA (Alberta) as a Client Services Coordinator for the Calgary office since June of 2011. First of all I must confess that I am finally fulfilling a goal I’ve had for almost 10 years. Being approved for a grant through the “Solutions Fund” I was finally able to pursue my passion of studying nutrition. Currently in my second semester at SAIT, and enjoying every moment of it, I look forward to graduating in June 2012 as a Certified Nutritionist. I’m extremely passionate about healthy food, nutrition, and active living and cannot wait to share my knowledge and experience within the spinal cord injury community. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been in love with food, although it wasn’t until shortly after I was injured that I started to think more about the health benefits related to food, as opposed to just the taste. Now, after being in a wheelchair for over 12 years, I think I’ve really learned to listen to my body, how it works, what it likes and, of course, what it doesn’t like. Obviously I have learned a few tricks over the years but here are some things I have picked up regarding supplements. My goal is to help provide you with some insight regarding the “Top 5 Supplements” that may be helpful for someone living with spinal cord injury. In no way should this information be taken as a recommendation. These are purely suggestions based on my knowledge of living with a spinal cord injury and my education regarding vitamins and minerals…thus far. Please be sure to consult your physician before starting any new regime.

Omega 3-fatty acids Omega 3-fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. Necessary for human health but the body cannot make them so you have to get them through food or supplements. Without going into too much scientific detail, basically there are 2 different types of Omega-3s; however, I’m only going to speak about the benefits of Omega-3s containing DHA and EPA which are found in fish oil capsules. Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral functions. In fact, infants who do not get enough Omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Cranberry One of the main benefits of cranberry pills is the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs), a common chronic health problem among people living with SCI. Cranberry pills contain antiadhesion properties within the antioxidants that prevent the

bacteria (primarily E coli) from adhering to the bladder. Cranberry juice can also be effective in preventing UTIs, although please be aware of the sugar content within the juice because bacteria love sugar. The best type is cranberry concentrate usually found in health food stores, although beware: it is extremely tart in flavor because it does not contain sugar.

Probiotics Probiotics are dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeast. A popular dietary source for probiotics is yogurt, but other dairy products such as cheese, milk, sour cream and kefir also offer probiotic benefits. A probiotic supplement (pill) is another option. Anytime you take antibiotics, you kill both the good and bad bacteria. Therefore, probiotics are sometimes recommended by doctors during and after a course of antibiotics to replenish and restore the numbers of beneficial bacteria lost to antibiotic use. Maintaining this proper bacterial balance can help individuals with spinal cord injury maintain a predictable bowel management routine.

Vitamin D Both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods (ie. orange juice, milk and soy beverages) and vitamin supplements. Being vitamin D-ficient may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu. Vitamin D levels are lowest in the winter months. While people can make vitamin D from the sun, getting too much sun increases the risk of skin cancer, so it’s just not the best way to get vitamin D. By comparison, vitamin D supplements of 800 to 1000 IU per day are inexpensive and safe—and provide a reasonable approach to avoiding D-ficiency.

Multivitamin Vitamins and minerals play many roles in the body and are crucial for normal metabolism, hormone production, bone development, bone strength and oxygen transport. Deficiency in vitamins and minerals may increase your risk of developing a pressure sore or urinary tract infection. The major vitamins are A, B, C, D, E and K, and the major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium and chloride. Look for a multivitamin with a range of nutrients. Please keep in mind that supplements should not replace food and always check with your doctor before starting a regime; ask how supplements will interact with prescription medications and affect your bowel and bladder program. Overdosing on supplements has serious health risks. I hope this article finds you in good health. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments - kasey. or (403) 228-3001, or if you’d like links to the references used in writing this article. Spinal Columns




Image by MIT OpenCourseWare.


by Amy MacKinnon


ental Health is a ‘hot topic’ these days in health circles, but many people don’t really know what it means, or how to ensure they have it. Although there is no official definition, the World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. This is definitely put to the test when someone incurs a spinal cord injury (SCI). In fact, according to a study published in 2008 in the Australia New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, almost half of those with SCI suffered from at least one of the mental health problems they tested for: depression, anxiety, clinical level stress or post traumatic stress disorder. The study indicates “there was a twofold or more increase in the probablility of emotional disorders (in those with SCI) compared to the general population” (emotional disorders in this study being depression and anxiety). Those are some pretty hard facts, but what does it really mean to be living with a mental health disorder? Not only does it affect you psychologically, it also affects you physically and can put a person at risk for diabetes, heart disease, weight gain or loss, gastrointenstinal problems, reductions in immune system efficiency, and blood biochemical imbalances. In addition to the physical toll, mental health disorders can also affect relationships, including those in your support system such as your family and friends. It can affect your ability to make sound decisions, and take advantage of positive opportunities, as well as your ability to find or maintain employment, and participate in the activities you enjoy. Now that you’ve had some grim facts and stats thrown at you, let’s blow a little sunshine your way. How do you know if you have a mental health disorder, and more importantly what can you DO about it? Read the symptoms for depression and anxiety disorders below, and if any of them ring true for you, it’s time to see your doctor. Having a conversation with your doctor is the first thing you should do because he or she will know if your symptoms are a side effect of a drug you are already taking, and if not, will be able to discuss your options


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with you. Create a plan with your doctor. He or she may want to prescribe medication for depression or anxiety; however this could be temporary, to help you feel well enough to pursue other options so that you can sustain long term and help prevent lapses. Together, you and your doctor can come up with a plan that will work for you. The following are some things you can do to help keep yourself mentally well, and help move you towards mental health if you are currently struggling. These suggestions are not only for those who have a mental health concern; they are important for everyone, especially in the winter when even those not suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), still often catch a case of the ‘winter blues’.

Moving Forward • Create a plan - Include several mood boosters such as exercise, social contact, adjusting your attitude, exposure to sunlight. Figure out which ones work for you and build them into your plan. • Eat for energy - Eating a healthy diet with all the food groups included is important, but focusing on limiting alcohol, sugar and high fat foods is imperative. Combine lean proteins and complex carbohydrates in your meals to limit feeling tired right after eating. • Change your thoughts - Sometimes you have to tell yourself to think positively, but it actually works. Focus on what you are happy about, and the positive in situations instead of the negative, and you will start to change the way you think naturally. • Use your support network - Talk about your fears and concerns with friends or family. Also make sure to develop, and keep in touch with, a network of peers so you can discuss concerns with others who are having similar experiences and problem solve around how to manage together. • Learn coping strategies - Relaxation strategies such as meditation or listening to music, setting realistic shortand long-term goals, doing things you enjoy on a daily basis so you have something to look forward to. • Be active - Anything you can do to be active will be helpful

health in changing the chemistry in your body to support better mental health. It reduces stress and helps boost self-esteem. Choose an activity you enjoy, or try something new. You might find you like it! • Seek help - Don’t be afraid to seek out the help of support groups and professional therapists. Check out the links at the end of this article for more information, and phone your local CPA (Alberta) office for more help or to find lower-cost or free counselling services in your area. • Get outside - Exposure to sunlight, especially in the winter, can be a great way to boost your mood. Try to get at least a few minutes of sunlight a day. Bundle up to stay warm in the winter, or on very cold days, hang out by a window that lets the light in.

Symptoms Depression • Feeling sad most of the time • Marked decrease in interest or in pleasurable activities • Changing appetite, either an increase or decrease • Disturbed sleeping habits • Fatigue or loss of energy, • Low self-esteem • Decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions • Thinking about death or suicide Anxiety • Worrying constantly or being tense or on edge • Anxiety interferes with work, school, or family responsibilities • Plagued by irrational fears that you can’t shake • Believing that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way • Avoiding everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety • Experiencing sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic • Feeling like danger and catastrophe are around every corner To get more information or to find out what you can do to improve your mental health, contact one of the following resources, or your local CPA (Alberta) office to speak with one of our Client Services Coordinators.

Resources The Support Network 211SANE Canadian Mental Health Association (Alberta) Alberta Health Services Mental Health Services locations 24/7 Mental Health Line 1-877-303-2642 Health Link 1-866-408-5465



n response to the ‘Health Care Evolving’ article in the Spring/Summer issue of Spinal Columns, I would like to add that my friend and co-worker, Jean Ursulak was being much too modest and didn’t share the true nature of the challenges of working on the spinal cord unit (Station 83) at the Aberhart Hospital. In 1966 the unit moved to the Aberhart from Unit 66 at the University of Alberta. What Jean did not share, is that Station 83 wasn’t prepared for this type of client—bathrooms were not accessible; the tub room held two huge tubs that needed to be big enough to put a patient in. You may ask where staff found these tubs (yes, the staff)—they were found at the garbage dump. Lifts were almost non-existent—patients were transferred by staff. Imagine being a nurse and having to transfer a 6 ft/180 lb. complete quadriplegic by yourself. We did it all day, every day. On Friday afternoons, orderlies got together and made leg bags using tubing that had to be cut, along with tape, and connectors collected from tubing from the Royal Alex Hospital IV. In later years, the unit worked with manufacturers to develop appropriate tubing and leg bags that were one piece. Patients were in rehab for 6 to 18 months, depending on the injury. Staff and patients became family—with babies born, weddings, divorces, tears, parties and laughter. In the early years, Drs. Kidd, Nicholson and then Nicas were the attending physicians, along with many medical residents, many of whom are now specialists in this field. Oftentimes staff had to deal with emergencies on the weekends. When we would phone the “on call” from the University of Alberta Hospital, we would be told “we do not cover the Aberhart Hospital.” Sometimes it took two or three calls to convince them we were actually part of the University of Alberta Hospital. Station 83 had, at times, up to 27 spinal cord injured patients (as there was no legislation mandating seat belts and many more work place injuries). There were weekly team meetings/family meetings with physical and occupational therapists, nurses, social workers, psychologists and eventually CPA (Alberta)—all played a role. The unit started primary nursing in 1982, well ahead of its time. The unit had its ‘characters’ such as Mrs. Rae of whom all former patients would ask, “Is she still there?”; Mrs. Ursulak, who would invariably ask, “How are your bowels and bladder?”; Warner, the orderly who was always up to “something” (we really didn’t want to know what); Caroline, who gave the most soapy bed baths on the unit; and who could forget Jerry and his bowel and bath routine. Looking back, I realize that the facility and supplies may have been crude, but the depth of caring by the staff for patients and families was strong and lasting. I know many former staff and students would tell you that working at the Aberhart shaped their careers in a very positive and dynamic way. Spinal Columns





his spring, CPA (Alberta)'s Chair-Leaders “Enabling Access” will be back and better than ever! Entering our 3rd year, we have made great strides in many different areas. We have been fortunate to be embraced and supported by community leaders such as Members of Parliament, CEOs, GMs, and city mayors across the province. These prominent citizens have all volunteered to spend a day using a wheelchair and have committed to supporting CPA (Alberta), with the goal to assist persons with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities to achieve independence, self-reliance and full community participation. These leaders are making a difference by stepping up to the plate to serve as committee members to help strategize and implement their wisdom as Chair-Leaders alumni to strengthen and effectively raise more awareness towards a barrier-free future for all. With the month of May being Spinal Cord Injury


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Image by Awareness Month, it would seem only natural to hold an event which pays tribute to the occasion. To date, we have expanded our unique event to a total of 5 locations including Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Red Deer and Fort McMurray. With this year’s campaign on the horizon, we are pleased to announce that we will also be hosting Chair-Leaders in Jasper and Drayton Valley. You will have the opportunity to show your support even further as we are now able to accept online donations! Although Chair-Leaders is intended to be an eye-opener for participants, it also aims to raise funds during the campaign. These funds will be used to help CPA (Alberta) continue to provide services to individuals who struggle with mobility issues in our communities. If you would like further information regarding Chair-Leaders “Enabling Access”, contact Zachary Weeks at (780) 4246312 or via email at

community It’s Election Time…

People with Disabilities Count!


oon Albertans will cast their votes for the person and the party they think will best represent them in the legislature. Candidates will be knocking on doors and attending meetings to encourage people to vote for them. This is an opportunity to discuss our issues with the candidates in our constituencies. Let them know why the changes are important.There are several ways to talk directly with candidates: • Call the campaign office to set up a meeting. • Attend a meeting where they are speaking and ask questions. • Send a letter by mail, email or fax stating your concerns. We believe politicians need to be aware of disability issues before taking office. Listed below are important disability issues and key recommendations explaining what we would like to see happen.

Issue #1: Income Support Many people with disabilities in Alberta live below the poverty line. The extra costs of living with a disability and the ongoing costs of housing, utilities, food, clothing, and other essentials make it hard to meet basic needs. Recommendation • The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped living allowance should be indexed yearly at least to the inflation rate in Alberta.

Issue #2 Transportation People with disabilities need affordable, accessible transportation for school, work, medical care, and community activities. Recommendation • Expand funding to municipalities to ensure people with disabilities have accessible, affordable, and flexible transportation.

Issue #3: Housing People with disabilities have limited housing options and rent support programs have been cut back. Recommendation • Increase availability for rent support programs so people with disabilities do not have to be on waiting lists for accessible, affordable housing for up to five years.

Issue #4: Education An inclusive education is critical to success in today’s society. People with disabilities are unemployed, underemployed, and poorer than people without disabilities partially due to a lack of equitable access to education. Recommendation • Ensure children with disabilities have an opportunity to receive an inclusive education from kindergarten through high school with the supports they need to be successful in schools in their own communities.

Issue #5: Employment Many Albertans with disabilities lack the supports to enter the workforce. Education, skills training, accessible workplaces, and job opportunities are concerns when people with disabilities seek employment. Recommendations • Government should provide internship programs for people with disabilities to assist them to transition into the work force. • Generate ongoing awareness campaigns to shift attitudes of employers towards hiring people with disabilities.

Issue #6: Aids to Daily Living Albertans with disabilities often have difficulty accessing the AADL program supplies and equipment they need to enhance their independence and maximize their health and safety. Recommendation • Reduce paperwork, streamline processes, and update technology to provide supplies and equipment more efficiently.

Issue #7: Access to Medications Many people with disabilities in Alberta cannot access medications and alternative treatments. Recommendation • The Alberta Drug Benefit List should include physician prescribed medications and proven alternative health care treatments provided by regulated health professionals.

Issue #8: Home Care Adequate government resources are essential to provide the scope and quality of home care services required by people with disabilities to maximize independence and self-determination. Recommendations • Ensure self-managed care is available to clients who wish to direct their own care and revisit administration and criteria to ensure it is working for the client. • Increase services for rural programs, taking into consideration the unique situations of clients and their caregivers in rural areas.

Issue #9: Recreation & Active Living Many people with disabilities are not able to gain the health benefits and enhanced quality of life from participating in recreational and physical activities. Recommendations • Ensure new facilities have universal access and increase funding to make existing facilities accessible. • Provide subsidies to help people with disabilities pay for recreational services. For more information on the 2012 provincial election and election issues, visit the Alberta Disabilities Forum at www.

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Shell Marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Jillian Welch

Photo by Shell Canada


he follow i ng a r t icle was w r it ten to promote Shell’s participation and support of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities which was held on December 3, 2011. Shell marked the day on December 1st with lobby displays and learning sessions throughout the day. Claude Laverdiere’s original career choice was to be a farmer and mechanic in Alberta’s Peace River country. However, he was forced to reconsider his career aspirations after an automobile accident in 1983 left him quadriplegic. Laverdiere, who has been in a wheelchair since the accident, chose to pursue engineering instead. “People always treat me as an engineer, and not as “the guy in the wheelchair,” said Laverdiere. I’ve seen this corporate wide, which includes visits from Montreal to Martinez, California.” “Earlier in my career at the Scotford Refinery, each time I went out to the South Control room I’d park in a regular spot, or, if those were full, I’d park to the side of the road and then wheel in,” said Laverdiere. One morning, an Operator noticed he was wheeling in and went straight to the General Manager to bring the issue to his attention. Less than a week later, reserved parking signs were posted. “It was a matter of calling attention to the issue, which is the case for most accessibility concerns; once they’re brought up, they’re dealt with right away.”


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Diversity and inclusion within Shell’s workplace is important. Since Laverdiere started at Scotford, the site has become a much more accessible workplace. “Working at a manufacturing facility, accessibility is the most difficult challenge,” said Laverdiere. Before the advancement of digital technology, he would often have to visualize problems instead of visiting them because of obstacles such as ladders. “With the introduction of digital photography, coworkers could photograph pressure equipment so I could better understand the issues at hand.” While Scotford does a number of things to make the site more accessible, there are still times when he runs into an obstacle. One challenge of working from the Refinery/Upgrader Admin Building is that there is only one automatic door within the entire building. Fortunately, this door is located adjacent to his parking spot, but after he goes through the first door there is another that follows – without automation. Most of us see this as an inconvenience when our hands are full; however, for Laverdiere this is an inconvenience every day. “Sometimes it’s just clearly explaining what my needs are. It’s more than just telling someone ‘I need a ramp,’” explained Laverdiere. Diversity and inclusion within the workplace can happen in many ways, and the first step is becoming aware, instead of being ignorant to the feelings of those with disabilities. “Many people told me that I should work as IT support,” said Laverdiere. “But my advice to others is to choose a career you enjoy and are good at, not one society deems fit for you.”

community by Zachary Weeks



f someone had told me a year ago I would be fortunate enough to be nominated to attend the 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, I would have thought they were joking! Needless to say, that is exactly what happened! I was encouraged by CPA (Alberta)’s Executive Director, Teren Clarke, to apply. At that time, I wasn’t at all sure what the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference even was or what it entailed. However, being up for anything and having a strong desire to experience new things I decided to apply. I definitely did not expect anything to come of it.

The Conference defined The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference (GGCLC) was created to broaden the perspectives of future leaders in business, unions and public administration, so that their decisions are based on a practical understanding of the influence of their organizations on the general welfare of the community. The Canadian leadership conferences began in 1983 as a means to help build Canada. They involve a unique process of examination, debate and discovery designed to broaden perspectives and enhance the leadership qualities of members. The conference is designed to pack the most intense experiences of life in Canadian industry and community into a unique two-week event.

So I applied A couple of months later, I received an email saying I had been selected to be interviewed as a possible candidate. I thought to myself, “Oh man, this is getting serious!” I felt honoured and awestruck to even be interviewed.

The interview I was nervous, but not nearly as much as I expected ... partly because I wasn’t expecting to be successful. Upon entering the boardroom for my first-ever “panel style” interview, I was greeted by three GGCLC alumni. Two other potential candidates were being interviewed at the same time. Although the alumni were somewhat laid back, they meant business when it came down to the actual “interview”. It felt reminiscent of the ending of an episode of The Apprentice where competitors meet in the boardroom. This said, all three panelists were very nice and put me at ease while I was in the “hot seat”. After 45 minutes of questions about why we thought we should qualify to be one of the 230 chosen, we were told we would be notified regarding their decision on or before December 30, 2011. We were kindly escorted back to the lobby with firm handshakes and well wishes.

Getting accepted I truly believe I will never forget the moment when I received the letter of acceptance. I even asked my caregiver, Rodel, to read it first. I sat there, a bundle of nerves and thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it and might pass out (okay, it wasn’t that bad, but you get the idea!). Rodel, stonefaced, read the letter. I finally

Zachary Weeks squeaked out “Well, what does it say?” A smile spread across his face and I knew I was one of the lucky few selected to attend!

What it means to me Being chosen to attend means many things on many levels. I am honoured and humbled. It means so much from a personal and professional standpoint. It means a lot of hard work has paid off. It means opportunity for the future, not only for me, but for others in similar circumstances. It means I have the opportunity to take what I learn to empower me to educate others as best I can. Change cannot be made without leaders, and I sincerely hope this great opportunity will be a stepping stone toward becoming one of those leaders.

Join me in my journey Stay tuned to the CPA (Alberta) Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages: I will be vlogging and tweeting every day, providing updates on the latest from the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference in May 2012. Spinal Columns


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Peer Programs in Calgary It’s hard to believe another year has passed. The Calgary Peer Program has hosted four major events with over 320 guests in attendance. With great support from four different companies, we were able to host the following events starting with the Fun Money Casino & Games Night sponsored by EllisDon; the Disabled Sailing and BBQ sponsored by Shoppers Home Health Care; the Peer Trade Show and Conference sponsored by Vogel Lawyers LLP; finishing up the year with the annual Peer Christmas Lunch sponsored by CanWest Elevators and Lifts and Motion Specialties. A huge thank you to our event sponsors, volunteers and guests.

Peer Programs in Edmonton There are lots of exciting events coming up in the next few months. To find out more, contact brian.mcpherson@cpa-ab. org or (780) 424-6312, ext. 2241 or go to

WEST CENTRAL Jasper Takes Action A group of citizens and community leaders are taking action to address accessibility issues in the Town of Jasper. The Access Jasper Committee will use their local knowledge and contacts to address issues of accessibility specific to their community. “Jasper has a unique set of circumstances due to the history and characteristics of the townsite and the local economy,” says Art Erickson, Community Development Coordinator, CPA (Alberta). “It’s extremely encouraging to see this level of support from the community that has the best understanding of the situation.” The committee will meet on a bi-monthly basis to form a strategic plan, specific tactics and action items. “CPA (Alberta) will assist, advise and provide whatever support they can to ensure the success of this development,” added Art Erickson. “As a visitor to the town, I don’t have the same depth of understanding regarding the challenges and opportunities specific to the community that their experience can provide.”


Calgary’s Peer Christmas lunch was a resounding success. 2012 is shaping up to be another exciting year with new and fun events for everyone. Back by popular demand, the Fun Money Casino & Games Night coming up on March 31, 2012 and sponsored by EllisDon Construction - 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm at the Coast Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre. Everyone welcome. For tickets/information, contact Marilyn Erho at (403) 228-3001 or To find out about upcoming events and to see videos on past events, go to

EDMONTON Taxis The City of Edmonton recently announced they will be releasing another 100 taxi licenses and of this number, 30 need to be wheelchair accessible vans. It is hoped this will help to resolve some of the issues related to the existing taxi service. Presently there are 35 wheelchair accessible taxis on the streets of Edmonton. With this limited number, it can be a long wait for a wheelchair accessible taxi, especially after 11 pm or if you live in the suburbs and need a short trip.


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A New Office The Grande Prairie office of the CPA (Alberta) has moved! They will continue to share an office with the Wolverines Wheelchair Sports Association, located in the Grande Prairie Aquatics and Wellness Multiplex which is fully accessible and located at #10 Knowledge Way (across from the RCMP and the Fieldhouse Reception). Membership with the Wolverines ($50.00) will provide full access to the Multiplex for people with disabilities To find out more about the Multiplex, go to Low-Income Grant The City of Grande Prairie is providing a grant of $100.00 per person with low income towards use of programs and services in city-owned facilities. Applications can be obtained at city offices, or from the CPA (Alberta) in Grande Prairie. We’ll be glad to email you a copy. For more information, contact Mieke or Winona at (780) 532-3305 or Peer Mentoring in Action It was a peer match that Mildred Sanderson will forever be thankful for. Mildred recently incurred a C6 incomplete spinal cord injury and is an active CPA (Alberta) client. She was excited to learn that she would be able to continue on with her rehabilitation in her own home. She was also interested in learning more about the benefits of CPA (Alberta)’s peer program. Peer mentor Holly Crichton was happy to be matched with Mildred and was able to encourage her to trial the EasyStand Glider and demonstrate how it could increase her own independence. Mildred adapts well to new situations and is willing to

r egions Services On January 25, 2012, Honourable Mr. Oberle, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Mr. Wayne Drysdale, MLA - Wapiti/Grande Prairie and a representative for Mr. Mel Knight, MLA - Smokey/Grande Prairie constituency met with residents of the Margaret Edgeson Manor, Grande Prairie Residential Society and members of the CPA (Alberta) regarding Human Services, Education, Health, Wellness and Finance. Thirteen people were in attendance.


try new experiences. In spite of Holly’s own busy schedule and managing life on a farm, she was pleased to offer that support and guidance to Mildred. As a result of the visit, Mildred has purchased her own EasyStand Evolv Glider 6000 and has improved her overall quality of life. Holly has invited Mildred to continue to visit her and states that “she enjoys mentoring” as part of her involvement and continues to pursue her talents and share them with the community. Mildred and Holly have also been able to maintain contact through telephone conversations, in addition to seeing one another in person. Their story has served to strengthen their relationship while improving the self-confidence and self-esteem of both.

Adapted Computer Technology This is an exciting opportunity to demo adapted computer technology that can increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. For more information contact (403) 327-7577 or

MEDICINE HAT Congratulations! Community Development Coordinator, Shirley Jago was recognized in the Medicine Hat News for her outstanding contributions in Medicine Hat and area. The article noted that in addition to her full time job with CPA (Alberta), Shirley sits on three boards, helps out with various community groups, bingos,

Thank you to Staples Staples took quick action in Grande Prairie when they received a complaint from a CPA customer. Handicapped parking signs have now been added to the front of their store. Thanks Staples. This is a great example of one voice making a difference! IDPD International Day for Disabled Persons Banquet was held on December 17, 2011 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Grande Prairie, honoring 38 people who volunteer as advocates and fundraisers to support programs and services for people with disabilities. Accessibility City wide accessibility was noted as a priority for over 125 people attending the ‘We Love Grande Prairie Workshop’ held on January 13, 2012. Thank you to CPA members who joined us!

Photo by Emma Bennett, Medicine Hat News. Shirley Jago in the Medicine Hat News fundraisers, etc. When asked where this desire comes from, Shirley says, “Being a single mom and wanting to help out. Most non-profits need cash and most single moms don’t have cash, so if I can give my time to an organization, that’s how I thought I could help.” 

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MEDICINE HAT (cont.) Rick Hansen Relay

types of disabilities. • Planning for the upcoming 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay taking place in March. • Planning for the Red Deer portion of the provincial Chair Leaders event coming up in May during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. • Compiling a detailed list of accessible hotels/motels. Will include name and location, as well as measurements of accessible rooms, including washrooms. Once completed, the information will be available on our website as well as by calling the Red Deer office. • Plans are underway to compile information in order to create a detailed map of all accessible bus stops and route numbers in Red Deer. Once completed, City Transit Department will place the map on their website for public access.


Duane Burr, driving his accessible Can Am Spyder, leads a group of over 30 medal bearers and Talon runners. Medicine Hat was the first Alberta community to host the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay with four small celebrations focusing on the work being promoted by the Relay. Accessibility Audit of Medicine Hat College “Assisting the Operations Manager to wheel around his facility was the best way to show him the ‘big picture’,” said CPA staff, Shirley Jago. When an individual wheels through familiar territory they discover that they see things much differently than if they walked the same path. Medicine Hat College has worked hard to become as inclusive as possible and it shows. Minor improvement suggestions were all that could be made for the purpose of enhancing their facility’s accessibility.

RED DEER Community Development The Red Deer office of the CPA (Alberta) has been busy with a number of projects, including: • Accessibility audits on the Red Deer Public library, as well as several other public buildings. Audits were also completed on several private residential homes, hotels and motels within the city. The audits resulted in upgrades and modifications to improve accessibility and safety for all people within the environment. • Along with other local agencies and several Notre Dame High School students, attended and participated in the International Day of Persons with Disabilities held at the Red Park West Elementary Schoo1. The event had many interactive activities for children that simulated what it is like to have different


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Outdoor Advertising The Fort McMurray office of CPA (Alberta) launched an outdoor advertising campaign to kick off the new year. The campaign included advertising in 6 buses, 3 bus shelters and the interior of 20 buses, all in an effort to create greater community awareness of the services provided by the association. CPA (Alberta) is committed to advocating for the removal of barriers for persons with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities. Thank you to the United Way of Fort McMurray for funding this project.

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aboriginal PROMOTING

First NationsTHROUGH Culture TOURISM by Jessica Jean

Meet Dion Redgun, a First Nations member from Siksika Nation. Born and raised on the Blackfoot Indian Reserve, Dion moved to Calgary 26 years ago, after experiencing a house fire where his family lost everything. Dion and his wife felt that moving to the city would provide better opportunities for his family, which includes one granddaughter and nine grandsons! And if that wasn’t enough for one’s plate, Dion also recently graduated with a Business Administration and Management Diploma from CDI-College in Calgary, Alberta. “Being a mature student has many challenges. Living with a disability and utilizing modern technology has helped me cope with the hardship and obstacles that have come my way as a student.” Dion has been a member of the CPA (Alberta) since 2008. While Dion was in the hospital he says that with quick action from the CPA Aboriginal Services Coordinator, he was provided with the use of a power chair. Dion is currently living with a disability, severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and started experiencing a change in his mobility in 1996. In 1998 he was informed by his family doctor that he should change lifestyles, as at that time he was supporting his family as a carpenter. Dion says, “The doctor said that I would end up in a wheelchair before I turned fifty. He was right, I now depend on a wheelchair.” Dion had surgery in 2010 to replace four joints including both hips and knees. Since then, he has been on the road to recovery with support from his wife Cherylene, his family, friends and the CPA (Alberta). Siksika Health Services have also played an important role in Dion’s recovery. Dion states, “I firmly believe that people with disabilities must not give up but to continue their journey to wellness through education and perseverance.”

Giving Back Dion co-owns and operates a small business on Siksika Nation Lands located in a natural pristine river valley called ‘River

Ranche’. Dion says, “We give back to the community by hosting youth camps and provide river floats and cultural excursions for national/international visitors. My goal is to finish my postsecondary studies in order to take all the teachings and knowledge back to Siksika Nation to help build community and utilize its natural resource, the Bow River, to promote First Nations culture through tourism.” Dion states that the lodge and one of the cabins are wheelchair accessible and he also has a portable ramp that visitors can use if required. The youth camps focus on outdoor learning and introduce visitors to the prairie wilderness and the Great Plains. Cultural learning opportunities such as sweat lodges are facilitated by Elders and are optional to groups and provided upon request. You will also find Tipi camps that visitors can utilize set up along the banks of the Bow River. The ancient Sundance (o’kan) is less than a mile away; this is an area where First Nations people come together to celebrate and carry on the traditions that have been passed down to them. They then share these traditions with Aboriginal youth and anyone interested in learning about the culture. The River Ranche also provides visits to the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, located on the north side of the Bow River near the Treaty Flats, where the Blackfoot signed Treaty #7 with the British Crown in 1877. Unique activities such as fly fishing, gathering medicinal plants, making crafts with the local artesian, hiking along the medicine trails and listening to local elders share stories around a camp fire or in Tipis, are also a part of the experience. The River Ranche is promoted through Creative Western Adventures, Alberta Aboriginal Tourism and Travel Alberta. There are several programs available to discover, so be sure to visit their website to start your adventure at Thank you to Dion for sharing his story. Spinal Columns


service in our library

Cooking with Cory T by Russ Bray

hroughout his life, Cory Parsons has always had a sense of adventure, and a love for food and exotic cuisines. A diving accident at the age of 23 left him quadriplegic but has done little to stop him from achieving his dreams. Cory is now a sports advocate and motivational speaker. With his first book, Cooking with Cory, Cory Parsons shows us that the only limit a person has to cooking is the limit you place on yourself. Filled with great recipes for entertaining and hosting friends, Cooking with Cory will inspire you to improve your cooking competence. I had the chance to do a video story about Cory Parsons last September, and right from the beginning as he opened the front door, he smiled and said to me “are you hungry”. I knew this was going to be a great story. I was so impressed with his attitude toward life and his desire to accomplish something that many might think was impossible, producing his own cookbook. By the time we finished the video shoot we had only minutes to enjoy the asparagus frittata Cory had just prepared before I had to catch the ferry back to the mainland. This was one of my most enjoyable visits. P.S. The food was delicious. Check out Cory’s video at Purchase Cory’s book at www.coryparsons. com or (search Cory Parsons or Cooking with Cory).


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Passengers requiring Wheelchair Lift


Edmonton | Red Deer

Calgary | Fort McMurray Spinal Columns


OBC - Edmonton - YPG


$5,200,000 - Spinal cord injury (quadriplegia) resulting from


single vehicle rollover.

(To our knowledge this is the largest SCI settlement ever achieved in Alberta.)

- Traumatic brain injury resulting from accident caused by drunk driver. (To our knowledge this is the largest

TBI settlement ever achieved in Alberta.)

- Wrongful death resulting from accident caused by drunk driver crossing center line.





In addition to Alberta’s leading spinal cord and brain injury settlements (see above) our legal team has established precedents in cases involving brain injury, whiplash, chronic pain, TMJ injury and fibromyalgia.

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Spinal Columns: Winter 2012 Volume 27 Number 1