Who we are
You don't have to be around SCIO very long to feel impassioned by our community. We often say how proud we are of the work we do - and we are - but behind our programs and services are people, whose heartfelt participation and contribution make SCIO the dynamic and inspiring charity it is.
Here are just a few of the many people who make up our Spinal Cord Injury Ontario community. From all points across the province, there are clients, volunteers, staff, donors and partners that are invested in our work and bring our mission to life.
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Nancy Xia is employed at SCIO as our Community Resource & Education Assistant. When you enter the Lyndhurst Centre in Toronto, you’ll find her on the first floor, managing the large amount of information in the SCI Resource Centre. She says, “My role is to help my clients adapt to their new life post a spinal cord injury by educating and providing them with much needed resources. I love my job!” Nancy has been very generous with her personal story – sharing as a speaker or writer her experiences from sustaining her injury to building a new life afterward. Read her story here.
World traveller and self-confessed film buff, Leandre Casselman became a Peer Support Volunteer out of a desire to give back to his community after receiving Peer Support himself when he was injured in 2000. He has been working for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario for more than a decade. “I enjoy sharing information, tips and tricks with other people who have SCI because knowledge can help increase your quality of life. I love the freedom and independence that comes with mastering my wheelchair and giving that same freedom to others by teaching advanced wheelchair skills.”
Photographer, raver, adventurer and exercise enthusiast, Chris Rice (pictured with his sister on the CN Tower EdgeWalk) has been a Peer Support Volunteer with SCIO for three years. Chris was inspired to be part of our team after receiving Peer Support when he sustained his injury in 2012. “One of my favourite aspects of this role is being able to tell someone they can still take part in their favourite pastime, that spinal cord injury is not the end. I love helping people set goals and developing plans on how to achieve said goals. It is far too easy to become complacent in our lives, accepting a situation as normal and inescapable because someone told us so. Fight for what you want. Go against the grain. Never give up. Never back down.” Read more on Chris in our Spring 2018 Outspoken! magazine and a May 2018 Toronto Star story.
Fashion guru Ben King is currently designing his own fully inclusive clothing line. In his spare time, Ben is a Young Professionals Board member and Peer Support volunteer for SCIO. He’s on a mission to support other people facing a similar journey to him, by using his personal experience to offer guidance. He has his own website which offers advice and knowledge about life with an SCI: “Your doctor can tell you what the medical reports say about your injury but not how you feel mentally, physically, emotionally or the way you may be viewed by the public. But remember, it is hard for someone to explain to you what you’re going through, especially if they have never experienced it themselves.”
A veteran of broadcasting (and voice-over artist for many of our videos), Certified Nutritionist and CEO of Fruitful Elements, Joanne Smith has been a familiar face at SCIO for many years. “I have had a 27-year relationship with SCIO. It’s one that is still going strong to this day and I think it speaks volumes to what I think of the organization. Over all of these years, the one thing that has kept me engaged the most are the friendships that I’ve made. I started out as a client and, following my injury, was part of the Peer Support Program. That’s what really helped me get through. It’s also the reason why I’ve wanted to give back.”
|Also see our Multi-media Gallery and News updates on what our community is up to.|