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

Embracing Winter Can’t beat it? Join it.

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327

Winter 2011


Winter 2011 Volume 26 Number 1

DEPARTMENTS

COVER STORY

18 A Can-Do Attitude at CADS

4 Editorial 50 Years of Taking the Lead 5 Inbox

Executive Editor.........................Larry Pempeit Assistant Editor.........................Betty MacIsaac Layout/Design....................................Aaron Yeo

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

Russ Bray talks about his experiences with the disabled skiing program in Calgary. FEATURE STORY

14 A Flexible Design Approach

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In your Community In the News

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On Your Behalf CPA (Alberta) Advocacy

FitZone 12 Harsh Words for Health Advice 13 Vitamin D and You Feature 16 The Alberta SCI Strategy Announcement 17 The Red Carpet Affair Features 22 A Comic King is Laid to Rest 24 A New Beginning Opinion 23 Far from the Best Seats in the House Service 26 A Better Quality of Life Advice 27 Can I Expense That? RDSP Feature 28 Finding New Opportunities 30 Aim High, Vote Low

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327

ISSN 1195-5767

Meet the Staff CPA (Alberta) Staff Profiles

Innovations 10 Surfing for Solutions Review: Magic Wheels 11 Hidden Gems

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: edmonton@cpa-ab.org

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32 Regions What’s New in Alberta In the third and final part of this feature, Ron Wickman reflects back on his journey through school, up to building the Ennett’s house.

34 Perspective Health Care in Alberta 36 Opinion The Value of Higher Education 38 Service DATS Steps Up Service Spinal Columns

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he year 2011 is the golden anniversary of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta)! This anniversary provides us with the opportunity to reflect on our 50 years in Alberta and some of the key people who helped to shape that journey. In 1961, a group of physicians, rehabilitation specialists, business leaders, and persons with spinal cord injury and polio came together to form a board. A Second World War veteran, Pierre Gariepy was appointed as the first Executive Director. Like many of his peers, he identified the need for an organization to support those with spinal cord injury. He and other veterans were fundamental in developing provincial associations that shared the same mission as the Canadian Paraplegic Association in Ottawa. In the early years, much of the work was accomplished through the volunteer base: the foundation was based on peers helping peers. During Pierre’s reign, the CPA (Alberta) grew from one office and a few staff to two large divisional offices based in Edmonton and Calgary. Rick Hiatt replaced Pierre in 1977, and after being mentored by Pierre for six months, served until his death in 1982. He was notably instrumental in hiring Larry Pempeit, who has served in a variety of leadership roles, and been the force behind many positive changes in Alberta. Larry has been deeply committed to the CPA (Alberta) mission for the last 29 years. He has been a champion for a number of affordable and accessible housing models, public transportation enhancements, accessible taxis, self-managed care programs, and many other initiatives. In 1983, Eric Boyd was hired as Executive Director, and his charismatic leadership led to significant organizational growth. He had previously worked for CPA’s office in Newfoundland and recruited his former colleague Betty MacIsaac to join him. Betty has served CPA (Alberta) for over 30 years and has played a part in many of the organization’s successes. During this time, the organization expanded to Red Deer and St. Paul, and Oliver Cardinal, the first Aboriginal Rehabilitation Counselor, was hired. In 1985, Eric hired a young social work graduate, Guy Coulombe, who has recently celebrated 25 years with CPA (Alberta) and is another recognizable champion of positive change in the province. In 1986, Eric helped established an Albertan committee to encourage and support Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour through Alberta for the winter of 1987. The success of the Alberta Man in Motion leg resulted in the establishment of The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation which continues to support SCI research, recreation, sport, and disability awareness programs. The Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities was created in 1989, and Eric Boyd was recruited to head up this important initiative. Similar councils were started in every province but only two remain—one in Alberta and one in New Brunswick. After years of service with CPA (British Columbia), Tom Parker was hired as Executive Director in 1989, but moved to Ottawa in 1991 to work with Canada Mortgage and Housing. In 1992, Neil Pierce was recruited from the WCB and provided exemplary leadership for 13 years. During his reign, CPA (Alberta) continued to expand services in the province, introducing a number of new fundraising initiatives and building new corporate and government partnerships. Since joining CPA (Alberta) in early 2005, I too feel tremendous passion for the mission of the organization. I am supported by a board of directors that is deeply committed to strong governance. I am proud of our growth and our work with the CPA Federation, the Rick Hansen Foundation and Rick Hansen Institute, the Alberta SCI Solutions Alliance, and other national SCI networks. I want to acknowledge some of the major accomplishments over the past 50 years. CPA members have demonstrated time and again, that with the appropriate disability supports they have tremendous capacity to accomplish their goals related to education, career and family. They have become successful professionals, artists, competitive and Olympic athletes, community leaders, and politicians. All of our members, despite catastrophic injuries or other types of physical disabilities, move forward and enrich the fabric of our province. I look forward to the future, but at the moment I am tremendously proud of our 50 years of impact. Happy Anniversary CPA (Alberta) and thank you to all the volunteers, staff, members and financial supporters who have helped us in the last 50 years!

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Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) Toll Free: 1-888-654-5444 www.cpa-ab.org Find us on Facebook and become a fan! Watch videos on our Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/user/cpaalberta HEAD OFFICE #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 Telephone: (780) 424-6312 Fax: (780) 424-6313 E-mail: edmonton@cpa-ab.org 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: calgary@cpa-ab.org RED DEER OFFICE #103, 4719 - 48th Avenue Red Deer, Alberta T4N 3T1 Telephone: (403) 341-5060 Fax: (403) 343-1630 E-mail: reddeer@cpa-ab.org GRANDE PRAIRIE OFFICE #104, 9715 - 105 Street Grande Prairie, Alberta T8V 7X7 Telephone: (780) 532-3305 Fax: (780) 539-3567 E-mail: grandeprairie@cpa-ab.org LETHBRIDGE OFFICE #360, 515 - 7th Street South Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 2G8 Telephone: (403) 327-7577 Fax: (403) 320-0269 E-mail: lethbridge@cpa-ab.org MEDICINE HAT OFFICE 26-419 3rd Street SE Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 0G9 Telephone: (403) 504-4001 Fax: (403) 504-5172 E-mail: medicinehat@cpa-ab.org ST. PAUL OFFICE Box 653 St. Paul, AB T0A 3A0 Telephone: (780) 645-7147 Fax: (780) 645-5141 E-mail: stpaul@cpa-ab.org LLOYDMINSTER OFFICE 4419 52 Avenue, Lloydminster, AB T9V 0Y8 Tel & Fax: (780) 875-1046 E-mail: lloydminster@cpa-ab.org FORT McMURRAY Gregoire Park Centre 194 Grenfell Crescent Fort McMurray, AB T9H 2M6 Tel: (780) 743-0307 Fax: (780) 743-4563 E-mail: fortmcmurray@cpa-ab.org CPA (Alberta) BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dale Williams, Chair Aaron Miller, Vice Chair Martin Purvis, Past Chair Scott Sankey, Treasurer Lisa Crown Harvey J. DeCock Kent Hehr Bill Hendsbee Timothy Hill Ray Royer Ned Shillington Eleanor Sugarman

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Larry, An American Disability Act for Canada would be great. It would be good if Alberta had such legislation. Issues that annoy me in Edmonton are as follows: Paraplegic ramps constructed in the middle of a parking stall—So if there is a vehicle parked there, a wheelchair user is out of luck. This happens at South Edmonton Common, and there are many others, too. Door openers placed on the side that the door swings open on. When one presses the door opener the door swings into that person’s chair. Examples of this are the Saville Centre and the new and modern addition to Southgate Shopping Centre. Paraplegic ramps that are too steep. This makes it awkward to go up, and dangerous going down. This happens all too often on new construction. An example of this is the Saville Centre where we were leaving a meeting and a well-known judge went down the steep ramp and had, what could have been, a very bad fall. Roman Wozniak

Dear Larry, I too am in a power chair and I very much identify with your problem of how to manage when your chair is in for repair. Use your manual chair? Not a solution! If it’s a short-time problem my husband will drive my chair to the city (an hour away) and I will stay in bed. Much better than in a manual chair if alone. I completely agree with your solution as to your old chair. I too wanted to keep my old chair for emergencies. No go! I too would be happy to put our money towards it to make it work. I can’t imagine my old chair had much value. They said it would cost $6,000 to repair it. What you suggest makes great sense to me. Any ideas about how we can make this happen? Anonymous

IN MEMORIAM The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) would like to recognize the following individuals who have recently passed on. Linda Chambers Drumheller Murray Chupka Sherwood Park Rob Hunt Innisfail Dale Lepine Edmonton Blaine Lynch Calmar Harry Moore Edmonton Keith Werry Calgary

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meetthestaff

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Profiles

Simran Kahlon joined the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) in the summer of 2010; she works in the Calgary office as a Community Access Coordinator. What she likes most about working with CPA (Alberta) is the population the association serves. As she moves forward with her career as a registered social worker, Simran is continuing her education, working towards a bachelor’s degree in social work. Simran’s vacation dream is to one day go on a cruise around the world.

Nancy Brown is a Community Access Coordinator for the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). Working out of the Red Deer office, Nancy joined the CPA (Alberta) team in April of last year. As a Community Access Coordinator, she enjoys working with clients in long-term care to help them access the possibilities they have within the community. There are many different ways for our clients to have a rich and fulfilling life, and it is her goal to help them discover the opportunities. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys playing with her dog, spending time with her family, and making jewelry.

IN THE

NEWS

Back Row: Rosie, Mike (Instructor), Shirley, Austin, Laurie (double amputee) Front Row: Natasha (C7), Fai (T4), Bradley (C4), Kuen (C6/7) and Mathew

Naturally, he had many doubts and questions: “How do I ski when I can’t move my arms?” “Will my body freeze?” “What if I get too cold?” Even with these uncertainties, Bradley came to the first session. Volunteers helped him into a sleeping bag, strapped him into a sit ski with a belt, and provided hand warmers for the cold. With that, Bradley was ready to go. As the volunteer pushed Bradley across Gold Bar Park, the smile and sheer excitement on Bradley’s face became apparent. “I’m having so much fun! I never thought I would be able to enjoy winter and snow again,” he said. “When is the next session?” He had the time of his life, and Bradley has not missed a session since. Natasha, C7 quadriplegic was also very excited to try skiing. With one arm stronger than the other, Natasha was very thrilled and scared at the same time when she first sat in the sit ski. With encouragement from the other skiers, along with her mom and volunteers, Natasha bravely taped her strong arm to a ski pole and worked as hard as she could. Even after a few wipeouts and braving the cold weather, Natasha was warmed up and hooked on cross-country skiing. These are just a couple of examples of people with different levels of mobility who are able to enjoy our winter outdoors. ACCSE will be taking skiers to the annual Birkebeiner Ski Festival on February 12 to challenge and support each other by doing the 2.5-kilometre Ole’s tour. If you are interested in participating in this program next year, check out the festival online at www.canadianbirkie.com and be sure to contact Kuen Tang at (780) 424-6312 or kuen.tang@cpa-ab.org.

Alberta Supports Kuen Tang enjoying the Winter weather

Cross-Country Skiing Zachary Weeks joined the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) head office in Edmonton last March as a Special Events and Community Development Coordinator. “What I like most about working with CPA (Alberta) is the self-fulfillment I feel at the end of every day,” Zachary said. “I am honoured to be working alongside some truly remarkable team members who are devoted to making a positive impact in the community for those with SCI and other physical disabilities.” Zachary sits on the board of directors for the Residential Aide Placement Society and is entering his fifth year of service with the Royal Canadian Legion in Gibbons, Alberta. When he is not advocating for those in need, Zachary enjoys spending time with his family and friends or keeping close tabs on the Edmonton Oilers, his favourite NHL team. Growing up, Zachary believed that in order to succeed he had to try to “fit in” with his able-bodied peers, but as he got older he realized this wasn’t true at all. Today he works hard, stays busy, enjoys a good laugh, and tries to live by his self-proclaimed motto, “Why try to fit in, when you were born to stand out?”

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Mieke de Groot joined the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) in June 2010, working out of the Grande Prairie office as a Client Services Coordinator. Her life vocation is to create inclusive communities. Mieke’s professional history includes a bachelor of science in special education, and a career of working in the fields of developmental disabilities and mental health. Mieke has been connecting street-involved youth and adults with community resources since 2004 and received her Bachelor of Social Work in 2007. “I appreciate the freedom to work from a holistic perspective, including families, friends, and multiple agencies in finding solutions that work for everyone,” Meike said. “What I like the very most is that the diversity of the work gives me a reason to research and to share information. I love being part of an organization of people who desire to help others— and succeed.”

Winter! In places like Alberta with its cold and lots of snow, winter can mean increased difficulty and hazards in getting out and about—which can eventually lead to feelings of isolation and depression. You can’t change the Alberta weather, but you don’t have to stay indoors—get out there and enjoy it! So we’ve started a new program to get you out and enjoying the outdoors in the winter. Just recently, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta), in partnership with Cross-Country Alberta, the Alberta Abilities Lodge Society, the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club, Alberta Sports, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and many community volunteers, created a program called Adapted Cross-Country Skiing Edmonton (ACCSE). No matter what your ability level might be, or how much function you have in your upper body, this program provides a great opportunity to enjoy the Alberta winter again through cross-country skiing. Bradley, C4 quadriplegic who was injured two years ago, was eager to try cross-country skiing, but due to his level of injury, can’t use his arms and operates a power chair with a head control.

On December 15, 2010, the Alberta government officially announced the Alberta Supports website and contact centre. For the first time, Albertans can access information on more than 30 social-based assistance programs and more than 100 services by visiting a single website or calling just one phone number. Information includes services related to career and training, income support, disabilities, seniors, homelessness, abuse and bullying, children and youth, and making life decisions such as personal directives. Albertans can also estimate their potential eligibility and obtain referral information. At the same time, the government has established several pilot projects to test approaches for improving in-person service delivery. It is important to note that Albertans can still access services in-person in the same manner as they could before. Government, non-profit, and private-sector staff will also benefit from the Alberta Supports website and contact centre. By consolidating program information, staff will be able to focus more on what they do best—providing effective solutions for the Albertans they serve. The Alberta Supports website is online at www.albertasupports. ca, or by their toll-free number 1-877-644-9992. In Edmonton, they can be reached at (780) 644-9992.

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onyourbehalf

advertisement

ADVOCACY Accessible housing The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) is working with Red Deer Family Services toward the development of an office and apartment complex to be located in downtown Red Deer. The building would serve as a base for non-governmental organizations as well as provide accessible and affordable housing. It would include barrier-free commercial and apartment space. It is very possible that 12 or more barrier-free apartment suites will be developed. CPA (Alberta) would also like to see an on-site care component to be included in the plans. CPA (Alberta) is working with Excel Resources and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as with a number of other community stakeholders, in the development of a centre for people under the age of 65 who have high needs. Discussions are ongoing with the City of Edmonton for a suitable location for the centre. CPA (Alberta) is a member of the SCI Solutions Alliance Task Force, and is currently working on three separate initiatives with them, relating to housing, web resources, and self-managed care.

You wouldn’t Buy Anything from this guy, Right?

Another new and exciting initiative that CPA (Alberta) is working on is the Boyle Renaissance Project. This development will provide up to 30 new wheelchair-adapted apartments specifically for people of aboriginal descent. The Edmonton city centre project is now awaiting the go-ahead from the city. CPA (Alberta) is currently looking for prospective tenants to live in the building once it is completed in the near future. If you are interested in this project in any way, don’t hesitate to contact Larry Pempeit at the Edmonton CPA office.

Community Access CPA (Alberta) is participating in a universal design committee that is reviewing ways to make Alberta communities more accessible. The committee is being led by the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The Edmonton International Airport is now well into expanding their main terminal. Currently, the plans are to double the existing size of the airport. CPA (Alberta) is working with their development committee to ensure that all areas meet universal design standards.

Caring for Your Caregiver

Life Elements Theory and Measurement

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ost of us probably realize how fortunate we are to have caregivers who help us to do many of the things we can’t do ourselves. It is therefore important to take the time to think about ways to help our caregivers stay healthy in both body and mind, and that they aren’t being pushed too hard for too long. One excellent resource is a website called Professional Quality of Life Elements Theory and Measurement. The site talks about quality of life strategies, and is filled with tips about how to ensure people care for themselves when faced with difficult work. They also talk about the professional quality of life as simply being the quality one feels in relation to their work as a helper. Both the positive and negative aspects of doing one’s job influence one’s professional quality of life. Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue are two aspects of Professional Quality of Life. They encompass the positive (Compassion Satisfaction) and the negative (Compassion Fatigue) parts of helping others. Compassion fatigue breaks into two parts. The first part concerns things such as exhaustion, frustration, anger and depression, typical of burnout. Second-

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ary Traumatic Stress is a negative feeling driven by fear and work-related trauma. It is important to remember that some trauma at work can be direct (primary) trauma. In other cases, work-related trauma can be a combination of both primary and secondary trauma. If caregiving changes you so deeply in negative ways that understanding of yourself changes, it is called vicarious traumatization. Knowing that your caregiver/helper can be affected in different ways will, hopefully make you think about how you treat them each day. Included on the site is a link to a Helper Pocket Guide that includes a list of 10 things people can do each day to care for themselves in the face of difficult work, as well as tips about how to become better at switching on and off, and preserving empathy for helping others in the future. The Helper Pocket Guide was created so that caregivers can carry it with them as a reminder of the importance of taking care of themselves. The strategies suggested are based on the experiences of other people working in crisis settings and on research from around the world. As an individual with a physical disability or as a caregiver, you may want to check out www.ProQOL.org and print out a Helper Pocket Guide for yourself and/or your caregiver.

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i nnovations

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S urfing

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www.Scireproject.com As a person with a physical disability, you soon realize that staying educated on issues that affect your health must become your number one priority. The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Evidence (SCIRE) website offers a compilation of the research underlying rehabilitation interventions to improve the health of people living with spinal cord injury (SCI). The information found at SCIRE is a result of the combined efforts of expert scientists, clinicians, consumers, and stakeholders to increase the accessibility of quality information in SCI rehabilitation. Individuals with SCI and their families may find the information useful to understanding their health and health care. It is a great website filled with lots of helpful information.

www.accesiblemexico.com If you’re wondering whether or not this website is trustworthy, considering they spell accessible with only one S, it might be noteworthy to know that it is spelled correctly in Spanish. They offer travel assistance to people with disabilities—so if you are planning a trip to Mexico in the near future this is one website you should check out. México Accesible was started by

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two people who thought everyone should be allowed to travel with dignity and in comfort. The website is meant to be used mainly for individuals who can’t find the kind of disability services to handle their needs elsewhere while traveling throughout Mexico. With services available in Spanish, English, and French, they say caring is their primary motive. Not only can they help individuals with physical disabilities get around Mexico in their fleet of accessible vehicles, they can also provide other items a disabled traveller might need, from shower chairs to bath benches, straight to your hotel.

Spinal Columns

Hidden Gems

MobilitySolutions

If you use a wheelchair to get around, you know that when it comes time to travel, either for business or for pleasure, it often seems like we have to take everything but the kitchen sink. One of the very important things many of us struggle with is trying to find a good commode or shower chair that can provide us with bathroom access regardless of where we find ourselves. Mobility Solutions offers a wide selection of portable commode chairs that can make traveling easier. All of their products fold for maximum portability and come in a variety of shapes and styles—maybe you’ll find one that works for you. Check it out at www.goesanywhere.com.

PenAgain

www.disabilitynow.co.uk This site featured one of our staff members recently when they wrote about her artistic talents regarding lettering comic books. Since then, we have checked out the site and found that it has lots of great stories about people with physical disabilities, from both Great Britain and elsewhere. It brings home the fact that even though many of the individuals may live halfway around the world from us, we still want many of the same things: a way to pay the bills, a roof over our heads, and people who care about us.

R eview : M agic W heels

ou might think that wheelchairs are nothing but a chair on wheels—which, more often than not, is all they really are. Power wheelchairs add a motor to the equation, but are still pretty basic, and manual chairs are left out in the cold. Enter Magic Wheels. Magic Wheels feature a specially-designed geared hub that provides a mechanical advantage as well as an automatic hillholder. They are easily installed and only take a simple switch to be activated. They don’t require any batteries and don’t contain any motors. CPA (Alberta) staff member Kuen Tang, C6/7 quadriplegic, uses a power wheelchair and provided some feedback on the Magic Wheels after she tried them over a couple of weeks. Tang said she had a positive experience. “The first thing I did after putting the wheels on was to try them on my ramp,” she said. “Previously I’ve never been able to wheel up independently. I was able to not only wheel up the ramp by myself in the first try, but I was also able to wheel down the ramp and stop at the bottom. I was so excited with my success, that I wheeled up and down four additional times. “I started going out and wheeling around my neighborhood by myself. My family members were no longer worried because I was able to get up any curb cut, no matter the depth. Another added bonus was that if my arms were tired, I simply shifted gear to push less weight and took a “break” while wheeling.” Tang also said that for the first time in three years, she was able to push up the ramp to go into her van independently. She

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S olutions

innovative products to help you live life to the fullest

could also stay in her manual wheelchair longer than usual. However, not all was good with Magic Wheels, as there were some downsides to the device as well. The system will add approximately 10 pounds to the total weight of your wheelchair, dependent on which type of hand rim is used. The Magic Wheel system also has a bit of a learning curve, and requires some understanding of the mechanical system. Knowing how and when to shift gears becomes important, but is not difficult. For all those wondering, the two wheels cost approximately $6,000. These wheels are not for everyone but please keep an open mind if you try them. Magic Wheels have kindly loaned the CPA (Alberta) office in Edmonton a set of wheels that can be used for trial purposes. If you are interested, please contact kuen.tang@ cpa-ab.org, and be sure to check out the official website online at www.magicwheels.com.

Finding a pen that fits your hand comfortably and allows you to write legibly is no easy feat, especially if you are quadriplegic. PenAgain has a wide selection of well-designed pens that just about anybody can use. They even have pens that are geared to help kids write more neatly. Instead of the usual stick-figure pen shape, PenAgain’s writing utensils feature a sort of wishbone-shaped handle to increase both grip and control. One of our CPA (Alberta) staff members who is quadriplegic tried one for a few weeks and says it has really helped with his penmanship. If you have trouble writing neatly and clearly, maybe this is for you. Go to www.penagain.com to find out more.

LibertyNow

There is now another available choice for people with physical disabilities when it comes to wheelchair accessible vans. Usually, one needs a van or a minivan, and is forced to decide between a flip-out lift or ramp on the right-hand passenger side of the vehicle. The new rearentry vans offered by Ontario’s Liberty Motor Company are starting to change the wheelchair vehicle game—in a good way. You may have seen one in action if you have used a wheelchair cab lately in either Calgary or Edmonton. While the ride can be quite bumpy, and taller persons have to be careful they don’t bump their heads, rear entry vans are fairly reasonably priced with accessibility features that are simple to operate. This may be why many wheelchair taxis now feature these vehicles and why more families are choosing them for their personal transportation needs. Check out www.libertymotorco.com for more information.

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 editor@cpa-ab.org and we may publish a profile in an upcoming issue!

Peer Program Video Profiles emergency evacuation equipment

Standing frame

This video features a specialized piece of equipment, designed to help transport individuals with spinal cord injury down staircases in the event of an emergency evacuation, or when elevators are not working. CPA (Alberta) (Alberta) staff member Russ Bray attended a stair lift presentation and was impressed with this particular model.

CPA (A lber ta) client Bra ndice Thompson demonstrates the use of her standing frame from loading to unloading. She points out the benefits she has experienced from using the equipment and talks about the excitement she felt about standing for the first time in five years. Go to www.cpa-ab.org/odyssey to watch these videos and more! Spinal Columns

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Harsh Words for Health by Amy MacKinnon

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n November 2010, Alberta published their 5-Year Health Action Plan, which outlines in detail what the province is going to do to help improve the health of all Albertans. In that plan, the province promised to host a series of forums, one of which occurred in December 2010. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Action on Wellness Forum, set over three days, which turned out to be jam-packed with valuable information. Each participant was asked to take the information back to their jobs and homes and share what they had learned with as many people as possible—so I am sharing it with you. After all, change will not result from keeping the information secret! There were several themes in the forum that I could identify with in my personal and professional life, because I see people struggle with these issues on a daily basis. Social, physical, mental, and spiritual health were the overarching themes that were discussed. Breaking it down further, we learned specifically how to improve school health, workplace health, aboriginal health, and the built environment to contribute in a positive manner, as opposed to being a barrier. Active lifestyles, diet, stress, chronic diseases/conditions, and addiction are things that you and I can focus on to improve our health, as well as the health of those around us. I say “you and I” because at the forum there was a very important message for all participants that is worth passing on; and that is that each and every one of us is responsible for our own health. This statement may seem a bit harsh, and I myself have to admit that when I first heard Minister of Health and Wellness Gene Zwozdesky voice this sentiment to the participants of the forum, I was a little taken aback. I figured I knew exactly what was happening: the Alberta Government was trying to put the responsibility of the health of the province on the citizens of Alberta. I thought this was their way of taking a “hands-off” approach and making us think it is our responsibility. How dare we take responsibility for our own health! Wait...why would we not have a certain level of responsibility in improving our own personal health? I know I certainly don’t want to be just a pawn in the game of my own health. After all, my health determines my quality of life and level of independence, and the number of years I will be able to enjoy both. After reading the guide to the plan, entitled “Becoming the Best: Alberta’s 5 Year Health Action Plan,” I realized that a lot of time, effort, and thought has gone into the development of the plan, and that the Alberta Government is, in fact, not trying to take a hands-off approach. They are however, asking us to work alongside them, to support their efforts, and to take some personal responsibility for our own health. The goal, according to Premier Ed Stelmach, is to “create the best performing, publicly funded health system in Canada.” That’s a pretty big goal; however, they have shown commitment and are getting serious about it by providing $15 billion to Al-

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advice

Vitamin D and You

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here is a lot of interest in vitamin D these days and with good reason. Most people are aware it is necessary for absorbing calcium in the diet in order to build bones. It has long been known that vitamin D deficiency in childhood causes soft, deformed bones. Fortunately this is a rare condition in developed countries—but unfortunately is seen commonly in the third world. It is also commonly known that a lack of Vitamin D in adulthood can cause osteoporosis. This is a condition that leads to easy fracturing of the bones from minimal trauma. In addition, it can lead to the collapse of vertebrae, causing pain and a deformed posture. Recently, researchers have become aware of vitamin D’s other—and perhaps more important—potential benefits. These include prevention of diabetes, heart and vascular disease, and many types of cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. They have also found links of vitamin D deficiency to depression. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the US population has low levels of vitamin D. This is especially true of people with spinal cord injuries, who often spend a great deal of time indoors with little exposure to natural sunlight.

Where to Get it berta Health Services in 2010 and 2011. They’ve also included funding increases of six per cent in each of the first three years of the five year plan, and 4.5 per cent increases in each of the remaining two years. At CPA (Alberta), we also believe in taking personal responsibility for health in ones own life, evidenced by programs offered to our clients such as Sail Your Own Ship, Discovering the Power in Me, and Adapted Cross-Country Skiing, among other new programs that will be introduced this year. So here is my challenge to you: Choose one healthy habit to adopt and do it now. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive—something as simple as drinking more water will do. Try it for six weeks, and then add another healthy habit, and so on and so forth. Let’s all be part of the solution! Be sure to watch for information on the CPA (Alberta) programs mentioned above in Wheel-E, our monthly electronic newsletter, or on our website at www.cpa-ab.org. You can also call our information line at 1-888-654-5444 to learn more. In the meantime, you can check out some of the resources listed below.

Useful Links Alberta’s 5-Year Health Action Plan www.albertahealthservices.ca/3201.asp QuitCore (Free group support for smokers trying to quit) www.quitcore.ca Healthy U (Lifestyle tips and tricks and information) www.healthyalberta.com

Because vitamin D is so important to our health, and a lack of it can contribute to so many diseases, it is vitally important for people to know how their bodies obtain it. The main sources of vitamin D for humans are sunlight, diet, and oral supplements. Humans can synthesize vitamin D in their skin when it is exposed to direct sunlight. The skin will produce 10,000 International Units of vitamin D with only 20-30 minutes of summer sun exposure to bare, unprotected skin. Factors such as age and skin color reduce the ability to manufacture vitamin D. Sunscreens also markedly reduce or eliminate vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Sunlight contains three types of ultraviolet rays: A, B, and C. Tanning beds emit mostly A waves, since the type B is filtered out by the manufacturer. The ultraviolet B rays in sunlight are responsible for vitamin D manufacturing. UVA rays do not contribute to its synthesis, but unfortunately, UVB rays promote skin cancer, while UVA contributes to skin wrinkles and sagging. Doctors have been encouraging people to reduce their risk of skin cancer by limiting skin exposure to the sun and using lotions that block UVA and UVB rays. Public awareness and compliance with this advice has had the unintended consequences of increasing vitamin D deficiency in the general population in recent years. An interesting note is how furry animals get vitamin D. Since they have very little exposed skin, the oils in their coats are converted to vitamin D, which they then ingest when they lick their fur.

© Copyright 2009, Paralyzed Veterans of America, reprinted with permission of PN magazine

Another source for humans is the diet. Natural sources of vitamin D can be found in butter; oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna; fortified milk; and eggs. Fish oils such as cod liver oil are some of the richest natural sources. It seems that the old fashioned practice of taking cod liver oil was excellent advice for good health. Vegans and vegetarians are at a distinct disadvantage in getting dietary vitamin D, since mushrooms are the only vegan source widely available. Most Americans don’t get enough vitamin D from their diets for optimum health. This is because the average American diet contains only 100 IU of vitamin D—woefully inadequate. Supplements are the easiest and most reliable method to obtain adequate amounts. There are two major forms of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight and is the form made available in supplements. Vitamin D supplements can be procured without a prescription anywhere vitamins are sold, and they are relatively inexpensive.

Do you need more? Since new research indicates how important vitamin D is for good health, how do you know if you are getting enough? The answer is by getting a blood test to measure the level in your body. The test measures 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, and can easily be ordered by your personal physician. A less expensive alternative is an in-home test. Some experts disagree about what is an adequate vitamin D level for optimum health. It is universally accepted that a level below 10 nanograms per millilitre is associated with severe deficiency diseases, such as rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults. A level of 15 ng/ml has been generally considered adequate for those in good health. Recently, many researchers, as well as the Vitamin D Council, an educational group aimed at promoting proper vitamin D consumption, are of the opinion that these recommended levels are too low. They advise levels of 30-50 ng/ml for optimum health. The trend among experts is that these higher levels are most likely beneficial and not toxic or harmful. Getting adequate sunlight is a very effective way to correct a low vitamin D level and, if done properly, is very safe. It is recommended that you expose your unprotected torso, arms and legs to direct sunlight for 15-20 minutes for at least three days a week. Protect your face and neck, since they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of solar radiation. Of course, this won’t be possible for many months for those in northern latitudes. In this case, supplements are the best way to correct the problem. Vitamin D3 capsules can be purchased over the counter and are easy to take. Many authorities recommend starting with 1,000 IU daily. Before starting any supplements or solar therapy, consult your personal physician, who should be aware of any specific medical conditions you may have. After you have started sunlight therapy or supplements, have your vitamin D level rechecked in two to three months. Spinal Columns

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DESIGN APPROACH

by Ron Wickman The first two parts of this feature was published in the Summer and Fall 2010 issues of Spinal Columns. Ron Wickman explained his passion for building accessible environments, and building an accessible home for a young boy named Daniel Ennett.

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his fall, my oldest daughter, Ceira, entered her third year at the University of Alberta (U of A) in kinesiology, and my son Kellen, started his first year in the physical education program, while my youngest child, Jayden, began grade 10. I’ve lately been reflecting on my own journey going through school and later becoming an architect. I have been around people with disabilities my entire life, and when I was 12, I decided that I wanted to be an architect for a very special reason. I often joke that I knew my masters’ thesis topic when I was in grade six. The reality is that I didn’t really spend much time as a teenager trying to understand what architecture schools focused on. I later learned that most schools promoted the artistic realm of architecture, something I certainly wasn’t interested in. While in public school, I remember wanting to go to the University of British Columbia (UBC). After conducting a bit of research, I realized that I would need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in arts, fine arts, or science, before I could even enter the master of architecture program at UBC. With that in mind, I decided to save a bit of money, and chose to stay at home and attend the U of A for three years to obtain that bachelor of arts with a major in German, and a minor in political science. As I began to prepare my application for the UBC’s school of architecture, I heard a rumour that the school might close down. I had never considered going somewhere else—I never even considered being rejected from the school of my choice. I ended up applying to UBC and the University of Calgary. As a backup plan, I also applied to UBC as an unclassified student, in case I needed to prove that I was worthy of their architecture program. My first setback was to not be accepted into either university—it seemed that my artistic skills were not strong enough. My interest in improving the quality of buildings for persons with disabilities did not make a positive enough impact on the admissions department, and achieving my dream of becoming an architect was proving to be harder than I had first thought. I ended up spending a year at UBC as an unclassified student, and I took classes that focused on architectural and artistic subject matter. I did more research on all of the

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Par t Thr ee architecture schools in Canada, and then applied to UBC, the University of Manitoba, and the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS)(now part of Dalhousie University). Unfortunately I only got accepted to TUNS. I could only conclude that the demonstration of my artistic abilities was weak, but someone at TUNS recognized that I deserved a chance for my unique reason to become an architect. I’ve never met anyone from the admissions committee at TUNS— however, I honestly hope they remember that they gave me this chance, and that I’m now positively contributing to the field of architecture. When I look back at my architecture school days, I realize that architects generally design for themselves and the immediate world around them. The difference for me was that I grew up with my father in a wheelchair, and because of that I was unable to design anything without thinking about how it would function for my father and others with disabilities. I often had a favourite question I asked fellow students when I looked at their designs. “How would my father get into your building?”

A visiting architect became visibly upset with a thesis presentation I made, and called me altruistic. He asked me if my plan was to make the whole world wheelchair-accessible, and at the time, I did not know what to say. I wish I had said “at least I care enough to try.” Today, I am recognized as an expert in designing for people with disabilities. I believe that other designers do care about this work, but may often feel at a loss as to where to begin. Some designers feel that their design aesthetics will be compromised, but in my view, most of them simply do not have the life experiences of knowing or working with individuals who have disabilities. I now know that the key to moving the universal design movement forward is education - that individuals with disabilities are ordinary citizens who need to have the same choices for movement in building environments as everyone else. My experience in designing a house for Daniel Ennett and his mother, Katherine, came at a critical time in my career and my life. Working with Daniel confirmed my beliefs as to why I became an architect. My lifestyle decisions were set in motion, and I would focus my energy on making life easier for as many people as possible. Daniel inspired me to not only be a better architect, but a more patient and easygoing person as well. I have stayed in contact with the Ennetts since finishing their home. On many occasions they have opened their house for visits from other architects, the odd delegation from Japan and China, and students in a class on universal design, which I teach.

My favourite story about the Ennett house is about two gentlemen who had come to deliver a washer and dryer. After they moved the two pieces of equipment down the ramp into the basement with no trouble at all, they high-fived each other and exclaimed, “This is the best house ever!” My only frustration is that the house has never been featured in an architectural journal. I have sent information to various journals, and the response has always been that it’s a great story—but the house is not “architectural” enough. Again I am reminded that universal design is not an important enough issue in my profession. I made a trip to visit the Ennetts recently. Daniel is now a very mature 16-year-old, and had a friend over and was playing video games. Daniel always has his friends come to his house as none of their homes are wheelchair accessible. I also noticed a painting of Daniel on the living room wall, and it reminded me of when I first saw the painting years ago at an exhibit at the U of A. Next to the painting was a written statement by Daniel. He said he’d like to be an architect one day, so I asked him what he likes about architecture. He said that it is a profession where he can build to capture the spirit of the times—what a profound and meaningful statement. I know in my heart that Daniel will make a tremendous contribution to the profession.

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Alberta SCI Strategy Update Eight Action Plans: Built for You by Heather Lissel

Community resource guide Knowledge is power, and one of our most important projects is to create a searchable website to highlight local and provincial resources to help people learn about important information and services available in the areas of housing, home care/attendant care and adaptive equipment and devices. We’re designing it to be interactive so that users can contribute information and comments based on their own experiences. It will be updated annually. Our plan is to create a site that meets the needs of consumers, draws a large number of users, and eventually attracts the dollars needed to expand it to other topic areas.

PACE Program for Alberta

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t has been a whirlwind year for the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Strategy and, like a whirlwind, we’ve been picking up momentum and sweeping people and ideas into the action as we move along. The Strategy began in 2009 with a plan to bring “stakeholders” (people living with spinal cord injury and those who provide them with care and services) from around Alberta together to create a plan to address some of the serious issues that Albertans with SCI face. Our approach involved a lot of consultation and collaboration—first to identify the constellation of problems that limit the quality of life for people with SCI; to also prioritize and narrow our focus; and to develop and implement clear cut strategies to solve those problems. I’d like to share with you the plans we have for eight exciting projects that will not only bring some immediate improvements to people’s lives, but build the capacity of individuals and agencies to meet their own needs and those of their clients into the future. The eight projects, or “Action Plans,” address three areas that our stakeholders acknowledge as being top priorities and the starting place for action: affordable accessible housing, home care and attendant care, and adaptive equipment and devices. Three task teams consisting of about 10 people each were struck to deliberate on these topics and develop strategies that would add capacity to the SCI community and improve quality of life for people with SCI. Their ideas were reviewed and approved for funding by the SCI Solutions Alliance in October, 2010. In total, $300,000 in Alliance funding, plus extensive volunteer hours by committee members, and matching donations from other sources will be used to implement the following Action Plans.

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Another initiative we’re undertaking is to create an Albertan pilot of the Personal Attendant Community Education program. People we spoke with when we were developing the Strategy told us that there is a crisis in attendant care: too few caregivers are available for those with self-managed care funding, and caregivers often need to be retrained to understand and respond to the particular needs of the client. PACE, developed by the Independent Living Resource Centre in Winnipeg, is a five-week training program developed, designed, and delivered by people with disabilities and community experts to promote consumer choice and control in daily decisions. PACE is unique among caregiver training programs, is low cost to administer and therefore tuition is also low. The ultimate goal of PACE is to give consumers more control and options for meeting their care needs, thereby allowing them to live more successfully in their community.

An evaluation of housing models In communities across Alberta, the need for a range of accessible housing with supports provided is growing. This project will provide communities with information and steps to help initiate local supportive housing projects. First we will be examining existing models to identify effective and innovative models that could be replicated. Then we will be sharing that information with communities, along with a template for a business case as well as guidelines on how to take it to the next level. The goal is to build capacity for future growth in supportive housing that meets the unique needs of people with SCI and similar physical disabilities so that they can continue to live in the community of their choice.

Residential accessibility assessment There is a confusing array of information out there about accessibility and what constitutes an accessible home. It

feature creates problems for people who need to find a place to live that meets their specific level of ability. This project will look at the variety of guidelines, tools, and processes that are currently being used to assess and describe the accessibility of homes. We want to create a single, standard guideline that distinguishes between different levels of accessibility. The assessment tool and process we create will be promoted widely to encourage standardization. Our long term hope is a provincial registry that could provide access to information on accessible homes available. It would also be helpful to people wanting to design or renovate their own home to certain specifications.

Builder’s award Builders and other people working in the building industry are critical partners in the creation of more accessible and affordable housing. With a Builder’s Award we aim to recognize builders, designers, and contractors who have shown excellence in accessible home design. To be successful we not only need to create the award, but market the idea of accessible design. The goal of this project will be to create awareness, relationships, momentum, commitment and overall raise the profile and desirability among builders—and buyers.

Pressure relief research

conclusion All eight of these Action Plans are in the beginning stages of implementation and are all scheduled to be completed by March 2012. And so the whirlwind continues! On behalf of the Alberta SCI Solutions Alliance, I would like to thank the dozens of people who have volunteered their time so far to developing the Strategy and the Action Plans and who are now working to implement them. Their ongoing relentless commitment not only helps keep us rolling but also on the right track. Without volunteers, the whirlwind wouldn’t have the strength and momentum it has today. One of our volunteers who is quadriplegic and living in rural Alberta really enjoyed what the SCI Strategy had to offer. Giving back to the community is something many of our helpers love to do. “One of the reasons I volunteered on the strategy, is to help other people with disabilities live a better quality of life,” he said. “Throughout my disability I’ve had people help me out and I just want to try to give back what I can to the best of my ability. “ For more information on the Alberta SCI Solutions Alliance, the Alberta SCI Initiative, or the eight plans outlined here and the Alberta SCI Action Strategy, you can contact the CPA (Alberta) at 780-424-6312, or go online and visit our blog at www.alberta-sci-initiative.blogspot.com. Copies of the strategy are also downloadable from the blog or available in print on request.

Pressure sores are costly and devastating problems. This project will look at best practices in pressure sore prevention and treatment, and share that information with consumers and care providers. It is our hope to provide funding specifically for pressure relief and reduction devices. In this way we can address the immediate needs of consumers while potentially encouraging clinicians, service providers, and equipment funders to review the effectiveness of their policies and practices.

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Improved computer equipment trials In today’s world, both funders and consumers need to see and handle computer equipment to understand its benefits to people with different levels of ability. Consumers also need additional time to trial equipment to see what will work best for them. Because many of these apparatuses are expensive and require customization for individual needs, there is a need for a process to ensure consumers know what they’re getting. This project will provide equipment for people to trial so that they can confidently approach various funders in order to obtain the equipment they need.

Catheter Use Research Single use or multi-use catheters? This project will look at best-practices research and sort through the information to develop a “decision tree” that care providers, consumers and other professionals can refer to in order to determine which type of catheterization is best. Hopefully this will make the decision easier. The chart will take into account a person’s lifestyle as well as their health and history when making recommendations regarding “cathing.”

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coverstor y

aCan-Do AttitudeatCADS by Barry Lindemann

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hile it may not be a surprise that Calgary is home to a lot of people who really enjoy the sport of downhill skiing, you may be interested to know that many of these individuals have disabilities. One of the main reasons has to do with a great program operated by the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS) in Calgary. Started in 1980, CADS Calgary is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization with approximately 500 members. Their main objective is to promote adaptive skiing and snowboarding by teaching people with disabilities how to ski or snowboard. It’s very different from traditional winter sports, as people with disabilities need to use special adaptive skills and equipment tailored to individual needs. CADS Calgary is managed by a dedicated board of directors. Russ Bray, a staff member of CPA (Alberta) has been actively involved with CADS for the last six years. “In 2003 I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and spent almost a year

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Bray says he really enjoys teaching in a wheelchair,” Bray said. “I actually individuals with disabilities how to have fractured my back and ended up with a fun and experience the cold weather like spinal cord injury.” never before. “Eight months later I started to “I think the best thing is the sense of learn how to walk again and I said to accomplishment and satisfaction a permyself, ‘If I get through this, I would son gets when you see the smiling faces like to give back and help other people and all those empty wheelchairs sitting with SCI.” at the bottom of the ski hill” he said. “I had heard about CADS a few years “It’s cool to see people with disabilbefore and thought it sounded like a ities outside having fun, staying fit, and great organization. So I joined in 2005, enjoying the winter—doing something took some ski lessons and I’m now admost able-bodied people wouldn’t think dicted to helping other people with disis even possible.” abilities enjoy themselves on the slopes.” With their numbers Bray says he feels I’m addicted to continuing to grow for CADS Calgary is thrivboth volunteer instructing, thanks to the exhelping other ors and students, the fup er ienc e t he y h ave people. ture is bright for CADS gained after the more Calgary. If you are considering learnthan 25 years of helping Albertans with ing how to ski or snowboard, check out disabilities. CADS Calgary can also atCADS and find a location that works for tribute its success to a thriving volunyou. Talk to other enthusiasts and conteer community and the fortune to have sider going to the slopes to give it a try. an amazing ski location like Canada For more information check CADS Olympic Park. All of this support and online at www.cadsalberta.ca. more make for an organization that has almost everything going for it.

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opinion

tribute

A Comic King is Laid to Rest by Barry Lindemann

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pi na l Columns often features indiv idua ls from across the provi nce of A lber t a a nd on occasion, from around the world. One such individual was writer and cartoonist John Callahan. Callahan passed away in July 2010 from pressure sore complications. I can’t say I personally was a fan of all of Callahan’s outrageous and frequently off-colour comics and writing, but I am sure of one thing—he always got people talking. Callahan became a heavy drinker at a young age and an alcohol fueled car accident left him quadriplegic at the age of 21. He quit drinking at 27 and entered Portland State University to study English. Like many cartoonists he began by publishing his comics in the school newspaper. Callahan would go on to eventually have his content showcased in publications such as Hustler, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Harper’s Magazine, and the New York Daily News. Most people knew him best for the cartoons he created for

newspapers throughout North America for almost 27 years. Callahan made his art in an unorthodox manner, with both of his hands placed on a pen. Crudely drawn with almost unreadable captions, his work struck a chord —people either loved it or hated it. The editor of one of the newspapers in which he was published said that Callahan was an “equal opportunity offender: liberals, conservatives, women, men, Catholics, corporate America—John didn’t care who he pissed off.” He sure was right. Apparently, no other contributor to their newspaper caused as many problems. Advertisers left, readers screamed, and in some cases there were even a few boycotts of the paper. All because of Callahan’s scribbling. Friends say he loved every minute of it and beamed with pride. The subject matter of Callahan’s cartoons was often cruel and slightly bizarre, featuring lots of crazy material. Much of it was created in the first half of his career, featuring people with disabilities. He was recognized as a first-rate funny person, appreciated in his lifetime by a range of creative people, including Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry and The Far Side creator Gary Larson. Two animated television shows were created based on Callahan’s work. Pelswick, a show about a boy in a wheelchair and which aired in Canada, saw Callahan as its writer and executive producer. Later came Quads, a series with a crazy Animal House premise which also aired in Canada. If you’re looking for a good laugh—or shock, as that just might be your case—and want to pay tribute to a man who told it as he saw it, check out www.callahanonline.com.

John Callahan produced controversial comics for close to 27 years.

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Far From the Best Seats in the House Speaking out about inequality by Barry Lindemann

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f you have a disability and enjoy watching NHL games or live music from the best bands in the world, then I can almost guarantee you have been frustrated by the lack of choice, location, and ticket purchasing options available for wheelchair seating at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome and Edmonton’s Rexall Place. It seems there should be an easier way to attend events in our communities without having to navigate through the hoops and obstacles currently in place. This is not something new to most of you. For me, things always start the same way when it comes to trying to get seats to a show or game. First, I hear of a great band or opposing hockey team coming to the city and tickets are going on sale. Diligent ticket buyer that I am, I mark the date on my calendar and make a reminder to call Ticketmaster on the first day tickets go on sale. When the morning finally arrives I frantically dial Ticketmaster, where I then wait on hold... sometimes up to an hour. Eventually, if I’m lucky, a polite operator takes my call and arranges my ticket order. If you don’t need wheelchair seating, you can just go to the Ticketmaster website and buy your tickets instantly. You can pick almost any seat, unless you need wheelchair seating—in which case you’re out of luck. Today many performers and bands also have presale ticketbuying options for their biggest fans. But alas, that’s usually not an option if you need wheelchair seating. I guess there is equality for everyone in some ways, because it doesn’t matter how big a fan you are or how much money you have when purchasing wheelchair seating at either of these facilities. At the Saddledome and Rexall Place, you currently have a very limited choice in terms of seating. The view is often

not the greatest, and it’s not just choice of location either; heaven forbid you want to have two able-bodied friends attend an event with you—neither facility offers spacing for more than one attendant or guest. Both of these buildings are quite old and possibly destined for demolition soon, which will provide an excellent opportunity to build new arenas that include state-of-the-art universal design options. There are many great facilities throughout North America that we can look to for inspiration and ideas. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins just opened the Consol Energy Center arena this year which boasts 30 different sections of wheelchair accessible seating. I look forward to the day when individuals with physical disabilities can enjoy live entertainment in more comfortable and accommodating environments. I would also welcome the opportunity to work with Ticketmaster to try and come up with a plan so that wheelchair seating can be purchased online. There are a lot of other hockey arenas in our province. We would love to hear some of your stories about their accessibility - good or bad. Your comments can be sent to barry. lindemann@cpa-ab.org.

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feature

A New Beginning A journey from the hospital bed to the ice rink for Team Canada

by Brian McPherson

Brian McPherson proudly wearing his Team Canada jersey.

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ifteen years ago, I was getting ready to enter grade 12, and I was enjoying the last weekend of summer. A few of my friends and I were spending the weekend at a cabin, and in search of a good time, we hopped on our quads to do some joyriding. It started out great, but it ended with a STARS ambulance ride. What was to be a fun weekend ended with a spinal cord injury and paralysis for me. A difficult time of adjustment led to too much alcohol, lots of attitude, and eventually getting kicked out of my home and a short stint of living on the streets of Edmonton. A friend introduced me to wheelchair basketball and my life turned around. All my energy and focus went into this new sport. After eight years, our team was inducted into the Alberta Hall of Fame as the only Canadian team to win the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Championship. I retired from basketball in 2005, and I found a new sport... sledge hockey. Having never played hockey, I was rather skeptical, but I figured I would try it just once. Within the first 10 minutes I fell in love with this fast paced, physically demanding sport. All the same rules applied and we played on regulation ice. With a toboggan style sledge and two hockey sticks with ice

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picks on the end, I was playing Canada’s sport. Six months after starting with the Edmonton Impact team, to my surprise came a phone call. It was the Team Canada sledge hockey manager asking if I would attend a preliminary tryout. Two weeks later I was in Toronto trying out for the team to compete at the 2010 Paralympic Games to be held in Vancouver! The calibre of hockey was intense, hard-hitting and fast, with some of the most talented athletes I had ever seen. After the first day I realized I had a lot of work to do. With a pleasant smile and great suggestions, the coach told me they would not be taking me to the Paralympics—but I was not to give up. For the next two years I trained hard and continued playing for the Edmonton team. August 2010 rolled around, and I attended another Team Canada camp. This time I was confident. My skating had improved, my awareness on the ice was better, and my overall ability was noticed. At the end I was told they might consider me for the new Canada’s National Sledge Development Team. In early November I received the best email of the year— I had been picked for the developmental team and would be playing in my first international event in Buffalo, New York for a three-game series against the United States! I was unbelievably happy. Everything I’d worked for was coming true. On November 23 we flew to Toronto where the team met for the first time. As we entered the dressing room the next morning for our first practice, there was an enormous Team Canada mat on the floor with warm-up jerseys hanging on all the walls. The day was spent doing drills and rehearsing for the next day. It was finally game time. Entering the dressing room, the realization that I was part of Team Canada really struck me. Instead of warm-up jerseys there were actual Team Canada jerseys. Brand-new Nike Bauer hockey gloves with Team Canada symbols sewn into the gloves, hockey pants, and Nike Bauer helmets with Team Canada stickers on the back—this was it. The butterflies were buzzing! As we suited up, the room was full of tension. Guys were joking and talking but nerves were kicking in. The starting line up was called. The crowd was screaming and players were banging sticks on the ice. Butterflies were back and even stronger. It was time for the national anthem and the realization that, for me, this was the most important event of my life. As O Canada began, my eyes instantly filled with tears. Worried that I might be the only guy crying on the ice, I put my head down. I quickly glanced over at my teammates — and saw I wasn’t the only one. The puck dropped and we were off. For the first 10 minutes we looked like a bunch of rookies. Failing to make passes and giving the puck away started to become the norm. All of a sudden a beautiful shot from Jeremy Booker put us in the

feature lead with one point. Our coach took the momentum shift as an opportunity to settle us down: “Okay boys, that’s one. Let’s get into it now and show the US who we are!” Whether it was the first goal or the coach’s comment that did it, our game changed immediately. Our guys were playing like professionals. The buzzer went at the end of the third and we had done it. 5-0 in our first game. For the next two days this was our lives: pre-game skates, meals, games, and meetings. The team grew stronger and closer. At the end of the tournament we had swept the U.S. 4-1 and 1-0 were the scores of the final two games. We had evolved from a group of guys who didn’t know one another and who had never played for our country to a tight group of men who ranked number one. I don’t think there are words in the dictionary to describe my feelings but I can say it was, not only an honor, but one of the best times in my life.

Brian McPherson battles it out with American team member

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. For other donation options, see page 29 for more information.

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service

a

BETTERQUALITYOFLIFE

by Vande Vezina

T

he Community Access for Persons in Continuing Care (CAPCC) program was rolled out in October 2008. The Government of Alberta set aside $5 million to address social and cultural isolation barriers experienced by people under the age of 65 living in long term care centres across the province. A review on long term care in 2005 indicated that these people were experiencing a reduced quality of life. This could be because they represent such a small portion of the population in these centres and rarely participate in programs provided by recreation therapy departments. In-house recreation programs are designed for the majority of residents in long term care— those older than 65. A pilot CAPCC project began in Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge in 2008, and by 2009, the program was spread throughout the province. As of today, services are provided in Peace River, Grande Prairie, and High Level by Accredited Supportive Living Services, a Northern Alberta based agency. Another group, known as the Blue Heron Support Services Association, provides the CAPCC program in Fort McMurray, Barrhead, Westlock, and Athabasca. The Northern Alberta Brain Injury Society works with clients in Hinton, Edson, and Jasper. Lethbridge Family Services runs the program in Lethbridge, and REDI Enterprises provides service in Medicine Hat. Meanwhile, CPA (Alberta) runs the program in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, St. Paul, and Lloydminster. We have noticed significant changes in the attitudes and behaviours of individuals who have participated in the program. Many are less depressed and feel less isolated after participating and venturing into the community—I notice they smile more and look forward to weekly outings. The CAPCC program allows participants to dream again about things they thought were no longer possible. It gives people the opportunity to see family and friends they otherwise couldn’t, perhaps because of transportation and funding issues. It allows people to complete the simplest of rituals that we might take for granted, like going out for a coffee amidst the hustle and bustle of life.

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advice

Can I Expense That?

I

t was Benjamin Franklin who said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes”. Hopefully you will take a few minutes to check out a website that may save you some frustration when it comes to taking the guessowrk out of what may, or may not be, an allowable medical expense by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You can get to the website yourself by Googling “Which Medical Expenses are eligible Canada” or visiting www.bit.ly/d6HGzW. The CRA has compiled a comprehensive list, covering items ranging from air conditioners to wheelchairs. The CRA states that any item on the list can be claimed on Line 330 (medical expenses for self, spouse, or common law partner, and your dependent children born in 1992, or later) or Line 330 (allowable amount of medical expenses for other dependents) on your yearly income tax return if you are eligible to do so. A useful tool that we found is that if you click on any of the medical expenses listed, you’ll find you are given a brief description of the expense, along with any certification needed to claimant, including the need for an approved Form T 2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate. The website also has a link to an even more detailed list.

RDSP

O

n March 4, 2010 On March 4, 2010, the Government of Canada, through its Budget 2010, announced two enhancements to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), grant and bond. Legislation to enact these changes received Royal Assent on December 15, 2010. The ‘carry forward’ and ‘roll over’ provisions will provide Canadians with disabilities and their families with more flexibility when saving for the future. or more information go to www.disabilitysavings. gc.ca or call 1 800 O-Canada (1 800-622-6232). T TY users may call 1-800-926-9105. A detailed brochure - available in alternate formats such as large print, Braille, audio cassette, CD, DAISY, and computer diskette - is also available by calling these numbers. To make an inquiry by e-mail, please send your message to rdsp-orgs-reei@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

F

A Celebration of accessibility

The Canadian Abilities Foundation launched Access Guide Canada (AGC) in 2002. - an online directory of over 17,000 businesses and organizations that provide access to people with disabilities - a practical resource listing accessible places to eat, shop, stay and more. Check it out at www.abilities.ca/agc/.

Dennis Monninger goes to movies with his elderly mother and hopes to attend an Oilers game this season.

For example, one of my clients, Brian, has participated in the Steadward Transition Program in Edmonton since early 2009, and he was transferred to a community recreation facility. Brian began exercising two to three times a week, and has since lost over 100 pounds. In addition, his mobility has increased, he is happier, and his long term goal is to lose enough weight to be able to use the lift at the ACT Swimming Pool. After seeing the progress he’s made, I am confident that Brian will achieve his goal. This program has been tremendously successful for participants. However, it has also affected facility staff as well as companions. Viet, a companion to a participant of CAPCC, has felt the impact of the program. “A few years ago, I had no idea what life at a nursing home was like until I had a chance to be part of the CAPCC program,” Viet said. “CAPCC has provided me with the opportunity to get in touch with individuals who are mentally/ physically disabled and understand deeply about the life cycle. Being a companion requires not only the ability to communicate but also the passion of serving.” CAPCC is an valuable and innovative program that affects the lives of many individuals; from the participants themselves to the facility staff, companions, and family members. My hat goes off to the Government of Alberta for providing an invaluable service to those who clearly need it. Spinal Columns

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feature

Finding New Opportunities

photo by Leah Rae photography

by Kolby Meyers

F

ifteen-year-old Andrea Archibald and two of her girlfriends were driving home from a Victoria Day weekend camping trip when they hit a patch of loose gravel. The car went head-over-tail and threw Andrea from the vehicle. Andrea sustained numerous injuries, including a spinal cord injury that left her quadriplegic. After hospitalization and four months of rehabilitation, Andrea was able to return home to a supportive family. She had grown up in the country where accessibility was a challenge— getting out and about was difficult. So when she turned 21, she moved to the city and bought her own house. With greater independence and more opportunities, she was able to attend college and spend more time with her friends. When I sat down with Andrea, I asked her about the hardest part of her road to recovery. She quickly responded that it was the time she spent in the hospital. Once she was able to return home, she was able to really start learning how to do things her own way. It’s clear that Andrea is a very strong and intelligent girl who is upbeat and immensely inspirational. “I never [identified] myself with any one thing or activity when I was young, so after my accident I didn’t feel like I had lost anything,” she said. “Someone who is a hockey player might feel like they had lost themselves after something like this—however, you learn that you are not those things; you are a person. “Many people might be scared of where they are going to

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Andrea Archibald and her husband Jeff

work, or how they will live. People need to know there are more and more jobs these days that are computer-operated, and things are starting to be more reachable for everyone. If I hadn’t been in my accident, I’d probably still be living in the same small town with the same friends and I wouldn’t have accomplished nearly as much as I have today.” Andrea’s friends seemed to all have a hilarious story or two to tell about her. So I asked Andrea if she used her humour as a defense mechanism. “I have always been a kind of sarcastic person,” she said with a laugh. “Nothing bothers me more than when someone treats me like I’m delicate, or asks me if I’m alright. So when people do that I tend to make jokes or bug them back to make light of things. I feel like if you don’t make a big deal of things, then people will feel more comfortable around you.” We also talked about her search for a new home, and whether she thought the government needs to step up and make more wheelchair-accessible houses available. “I feel that a percentage of new houses being built should be wheelchair-accessible, to give people more options when buying a house,” she said. “When I was shopping for my own home I had very few options. I ended up spending $40,000-$50,000 to make my home work for me. It would [have been] nice to be able to move into a new home and not need to make any changes to the layout.” After finally finding a home and moving into the city, Andrea found herself surrounded by amazing friends, and she eventually met her now husband, Jeff Archibald. Andrea and Jeff own their own graphic design company called Paper Leaf Design (www.paper-leaf.com). Together they design websites, logos, and wedding invitations. Over the past year their company has grown immensely, and they are hoping to keep very busy into 2011 and beyond. Spinal Columns

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services

Aim High Vote Low

by Barry Lindemann

First of Its kind Research A new report estimating the incidence and prevalence of spinal cord injury in Canada has found that close to 86,000 Canadians are currently living with spinal cord injury and that an estimated 4,300 new cases of spinal cord injury occur in Canada each year, a baseline measurement of the extent of SCI in Canada that was previously unknown. The report, The Incidence and Prevalence of Spinal Cord Injury in Canada: Overview and Estimates Based on Current Evidence, jointly released by the Rick Hansen Institute and the Urban Futures Institute, also found that by 2030, the number of Canadians living with spinal cord injury is expected to climb to 121,000 due to the aging of the Canadian population and more accidents occurring as a result of falls. For more information, go to www.rickhanseninstitute.org or phone 604-707-2100.

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coverstor y

T

ommy Low was raised in a small corner grocery store in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Born as a little person with big dreams, Low’s parents taught him that education, hard work, and respect were the key principles to a happy, successful life. Low took these principles to heart while growing up, and later earned his bachelor of business administration degree with honours from the University of Manitoba. With that Low began pursuing a career in the field of accounting. In 1982, Low followed his family to Calgary and began trying his hand as a real estate agent. As anyone who was around then can probably remember, the city was in a dangerous period of economic turmoil, and the real estate industry was falling fast. Low quickly found himself faced with two challenges; the crashing real estate economy, and being told he was not presentable to the public at four-foot-two. With determination, hard work, and persistence, he faced his challenges headon. He decided to turn things around and live by the age-old mantra of treating others the way he liked to be treated, and it eventually paid off. After several years of dedication and building trust in the community, Low was named one of Calgary’s top real estate professionals, and received the recognition several times over. Despite his overwhelming success, Low was faced with another challenge in 1994—when he became paralyzed. But it would take more than that to stop him. No stranger to adversity, Low figured out what he would need to change, and strived to continue his life as “normally” as possible. He chose to devote his extra time and energy to helping the community with his volunteer work, and before long he was back in the game and more successful than ever. But he didn’t stop there. After living in the same area for 16 years, Low decided to take on municipal politics and ran as alderman for Calgary’s City Council in October last year. Low campaigned vigorously and made himself very well-known in Calgary. Unfortunately, while he did not win a position on city council, he was pleased with the immense support he received from voters. We should expect to hear more from Tommy Low in the future. In his own words, “You can expect big results from the little guy.”

would you like to network with great people, attend great events, support a great cause, make a positive impact in your community The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) is currently recruiting volunteers to help sell raffle tickets at various events throughout Alberta. Volunteers must be over 18 years of age and provide their own transportation to and from events. For more information please call Angie or Zachary at 780-424-6312.

Making life easier Don’t let incontinence slow you down! No matter what your continence needs are, Coloplast offers a product to keep you going. Coloplast focuses on developing products that increase the quality of life for people who use them. Our mission is to make life easier for people with intimate healthcare needs. Coloplast products are designed for quality, security, convenience and optimal health.

If you would like to try one of Coloplast’s catheters (including SpeediCath) or find out about our other continence products, please call our Consumer Support Team at 1-866-293-6349.

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. © 2010-01 All rights reserved Coloplast Canada, Mississauga, Canada.

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r egions

what’s new in

Alberta CALGARY Peer Christmas Lunch The 2010 annual Calgary Christmas Peer lunch was a resounding success. Last December, more than 140 people had the opportunity to eat a fantastic lunch and be entertained by a master illusionist, Jester ’N Jeff. Sponsored by Canwest, this year’s event gave attendees the chance to talk about future events and opportunities for peer mentoring, and let everyone get together just to have a great time. CPA (Alberta) board member and Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr provided the holiday greetings at the session. Marilyn Erho, CPA (Alberta) Peer Coordinator was especially pleased with the number of individuals who attended the event and expressed her thanks for the volunteer involvement and sponsorship provided. All the door prizes that were awarded were donations. Contact Marilyn Erho at marilyn.erho@cpa-ab.org or (403) 228-3001 if you would like more information about the Calgary peer program.

EDMONTON Staff Recognition Various CPA (Alberta) staff are recognized annually for their years of service through our formal Staff Recognition Program. Several of our staff have worked with the organization for many years, creating a wealth of knowledge and continuity that is not typical within the non-profit community. This year we were proud to recognize two long-time staff members; Guy Coulombe and Betty MacIsaac, who have a combined service of over 55 years.

Guy Coulombe and Betty MacIsaac were recognized for their service.

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r egions FORT MCMURRAY Staying Active We’ve all experienced periods where we lack motivation, or perhaps are just simply bored. Staying active or being social can ease some of those times. People living with disabilities can find this to be even more challenging than for others—especially in places like Fort McMurray where the recreational activity scene for those with disabilities is almost non-existent. Another challenge presents itself; as in many cities, there is a severe lack of transportation to and from many social activities. Individuals with disabilities in Fort McMurray have a great deal of difficulty finding transportation. CPA (Alberta) decided to take action by developing an activity program for those in the Fort McMurray community. CPA in Fort McMurray is one of a few organizations with wheelchair accessibility and access to a wonderful gym space. Once a week, we will be making the gym available for people to participate in various sports, arts and crafts, and have an opportunity to socialize with others in the community. It has been proven time and time again that people who surround themselves with others and participate in social activities—whether through volunteering, sports, or leisure—have higher self-esteem, can lower their susceptibility to illness, and are less stressed in day-to-day activities. Those who don’t participate in their community, including those who do not have the opportunity to be socially interactive, can be more vulnerable to loneliness and depression. Through this new program, we are hoping to reduce those odds and provide a welcoming and exciting place to be. anticipate the program will be up and running in January 2011, providing an opportunity for individuals to be more active in Fort McMurray. For more information, contact Alisha Towsley at (780) 743-0307 or alisha.towlsley@cpa-ab.org. They are located at 194 Grenfell Crescent.

The Calgary christmas party held in December was a great success.

DisabledPoverty: AnUnacknowledgedReality A press release made available by:

C

an you imagine living on less than $10,000 a year? Many Canadians assume that people with disabilities are well provided for. Few, unless they have a family member with a disability, understand that disability and poverty are largely synonymous—disability can lead to poverty, and poverty can lead to disability. Many a newly disabled Canadian has been shocked to learn that the average Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit is only $720 a month, and that is only if you meet stringent eligibility requirements. The myth of robust disability pensions means: Canadians who become disabled and unable to work are unprepared for the financial hardships which are ahead of them; Few beyond the disability community have been calling for social policy reform that would eradicate disability poverty; and many born with disability live their whole lives in poverty, or long to become 65 because benefits are better for seniors. In Ottawa, at a national forum called End Exclusion 2010, people with disabilities and their allies are challenging the myth that people with disabilities are “well taken care of in Canadian society.” We are speaking out about the realities of living in poverty with a disability. People with disabilities, researchers and policy analysts will present new knowledge and policy alternatives to existing Canadian income security programs. End Exclusion is coordinated by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Canadian Association for Community Living and Canada Without Poverty. For the past two and a half years, CCD has been coordinating a research project, Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This project brings together university based social scientists and grassroots disability activists and their organizations to develop innovative policy models for addressing the poverty of Canadians with disabilities. End Exclusion 2010 is pleased to be launching one of these models—the Basic Income Plan for Canadians with Severe Disabilities—developed by Michael Mendelson, Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman of the Caledon Institute, and Ernie Lightman of the University of Toronto. Together we can create a more Inclusive and Accessible Canada. For more information you can contact Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator of CCD at (204) 981-6179, Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President of CACL at (416) 209-7942, or Rob Rainer, Executive Director CWP at (613) 314-7755.

do You suffer From “drop Foot?”

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The Future of Charity

A

ccording to a report by Statistics Canada, there are fewer and fewer Canadians donating to charities, and those who are contributing are getting older. While the changes are subtle, it could be an indicator of troubling patterns in the near future. The average age of donors is now 53, and is constantly rising. This could be a problem in the future, without a generation to support charities they may have to look for additional sources of income. The lack of funds can be troublesome for many organizations that rely heavily on contributions from the public. In 2009, around 5.6 million people had made a donation, 200,000 less people than in 2008. This has been a pattern seen in recent years, and is worrying organizations like United Way. The decrease in the last year equated to about a $440 million drop in actual donated funds. At the lowest it has been since 1980, only 23 per cent of registered taxpayers reported making some sort of donation. In line with the report, the average age has gone up from 51 to 53 over the last year. Older donors are becoming more common. It has been reported that the decrease is coming mostly from middle class families, and the drop might be attributable to the financial crisis. However, those well off enough are still donating, and numbers even show that individual donation amounts are slightly rising. Nevertheless, charitable organizations are still suffering from the ultimately lower totals. Spinal Columns

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perspective

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE by Larry Pempeit

I

don’t know how you feel about the health care system in Alberta, but I am becoming increasingly alarmed about the care I can expect when I get ill and need hospitalization. Over the last year I have heard through numerous sources about the state of our health care system and questions about its sustainability. I’ve read about emergency wait times taking up to 17 hours and about mistakes that medical staff are making in dispensing drugs. As a person who has a disability and is dependent on the health care system to live a normal life, I am increasingly worried about my future. I wonder how I will manage in an emergency ward if I need urgent help. Would I be able to lay on a stretcher for 17 hours? Will I end up with a pressure sore or undergo septic shock? I am less willing and more fearful of going to an emergency department. If I experience a serious illness, I might even wait too long because of this fear. I know I need to bring someone to act as my caregiver and advocate. If you’re single and don’t have a family or friends who can drop everything and help you, you are left at the mercy of emergency staff. I’m not sure what the solution is but I would rest a lot easier

if I knew there was someone at the hospital who could speak on my behalf. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew there were one or two knowledgeable individuals on the emergency staff looking out for the health care needs of those with physical disabilities? I don’t think this would be a new idea, and I don’t know if it would work, but I think something needs to be done. Of course, if I do manage to get through emergency and find myself lucky enough to get a hospital bed, will I receive enough proper care to get better? I’m talking about pressure sores, or maybe acquiring some antibiotic-resistant bug. I know from past experience that most nursing staff do not have experience in dealing with spinal cord injury. I’ve learned that I am responsible for directing my care and educating staff. This is becoming more of a challenge when there are limited staff who have little time or patience to listen to what an individual has to say. This is where I think a knowledgeable, hospital-based individual dedicated to ensuring patient needs are met wwould do a lot to ease the fears of those of us with disabilities. Anyway, that’s my perspective.

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or visit us on-line at www.shoppershomehealthcare.ca Spinal Columns

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education

education

The Value of Higher Education by Martin Purvis

M

y name is Martin Purvis, and I’m an Educational Advisor at DeVry Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta. I am very passionate about the value of higher education and would like to share my personal spinal cord injury experience with you to show you why I care. There is one date that is etched right into my memory: February 8, 1998. I was skiing with my family at Nakiska when a minor fall on a patch of ice resulted in an out-of-control slide down the mountain. A collision with a tree brought me to a sudden halt. I crushed my spinal cord between T11 and T12, along with other significant injuries, including a ruptured spleen. I was lucky that there was an off-duty ski patroller nearby who had observed the accident. He was able to provide us with immediate medical attention. Without the air transportation I received, the outcome might have been very different. However, thanks to STARS, I made it to the trauma centre at Foothills Hospital in Calgary. I spent four months in hospital, followed by another eleven months of convalescence at home. When it came time to start looking at career opportunities, I had a significant advantage over many other spinal cord injured individuals, thanks to the fact that I already had a university education. I found the fact that I had a degree opened doors for me and helped employers see past my disability. Within a month, I began working in the admissions department of the DeVry Institute of Technology in Calgary, where I still work today. There I help people change their lives and improve their careers through career-oriented higher education. Without DeVry, many of these students would not have been able to earn a bachelor’s degree in the traditional education system.

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Now, after almost 12 years with DeVry, I am a senior advisor specializing in online education. Additionally, I have continued my own education with DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Business, earning a master of business administration with an emphasis in information systems management. I have been a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) for over eight years, two years of which I served as chairperson. I also represent Alberta on the board of the national CPA. Outside of my work life, my hobbies include building acoustic guitars and flying radio-controlled helicopters and airplanes. Do you need more education? If you have sustained a spinal cord injury and are unable to continue in your former line of work, why should you consider getting a bachelor’s degree? A bachelor’s degree helps build a career where being in a wheelchair is not a barrier to success. The degree contributes to developing career skills that are marketable and adaptable while providing greater opportunities for advancement. As a result, a bachelor’s degree is a smart investment, especially for individuals with physical disabilities because it opens up a wide range of career opportunities. How can I help you as a senior advisor with DeVry Institute of Technology? We are part of DeVry University, one of the largest private post-secondary systems in North America, with more than 90 locations and a history going back nearly 80 years. The Government of Alberta has granted DeVry Institute of Technology approval to award the following baccalaureate degrees: Bachelor of Business Administration: This program provides a solid foundation in accounting, finance and business management on which to base a wide variety of careers in business. Multiple concentrations provide additional business skills to further prepare students for specific career fields.

Bachelor of Science, Computer Information Systems: Graduates from this program have gained experience with the theory as well as the practical applications for designing, developing, testing, and evaluating complex software and computer systems. To enhance long-term career flexibility, we offer multiple learning tracks within the program. Bachelor of Science, Electronic Engineering Technology: This program emphasizes hardware and software aspects of engineering, including wireless communications systems, telecommunications devices and networks, automated manufacturing, electronic instrumentation, and electronics devices and systems. Several technical specialties are available. Part of my job is to interview prospective students to help determine if we have the right program to help them achieve their goals. In addition, since our program delivery is quite different from the traditional education system, I also explain how the online environment works and introduce some of the benefits of our program. For example, course scheduling is offered year-round which provides students with the opportunity to earn a four-year degree in three years. At DeVry Institute of Technology, you’ll learn from faculty with current industry experience and curricula that keep pace with technological advancements—and you’ll practice what you learn. As a result, you will gain the education, experience and confidence you need to succeed. In addition, we keep our classes small so that you get the attention you deserve. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me at (403) 207-3199 or by e-mail at mpurvis@devry.edu.

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service

DATS Stepping Up Service three, and then increasing the number of ambulatory seating from a maximum of eight to 12. However, these changes are only being made on a portion of the fleet. The final touches are being placed on the first two buses and another eight will be delivered early in 2011. The new vehicles offer increased passenger comfort and features that will improve operator working conditions within the bus.

DATS I-Book

I

n response to a trend of increased ambulatory demand, the Disabled Adult Transportation Service (DATS) in Edmonton has been adjusting its mix of wheelchair and ambulatory seating capacity in its fleet. DATS introduced the use of small accessible vehicles with one wheelchair and four ambulatory spots in January last year. The fleet replacement project will also be reducing the number of wheelchair positions in each vehicle from five to

The DATS I-Book is an online booking tool that allows clients to book reservation trips during regular Customer Care Centre hours: Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m on the weekends. Clients will also be able to cancel or view their trips 24/7, including trips that were booked through the traditional call centre. The IBook will also allow customers to monitor their subscriptions and view basic information in their profile; for example, emergency contacts, address information, etc. To allow DATS to improve their service, feedback can also be sent electronically about both the I-Book system and general quality of service. While the I-Book service is not yet available to the public, DATS is currently working with eight client volunteers to iron out any kinks, confusions, and concerns in the system before offering this service to interested registrants.

Moving up has never been easier.

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Edmonton | Red Deer

Calgary | Fort McMurray Spinal Columns

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Spinal Columns: Winter 2011 Volume 26 Number 1