Opening Notes: Community Connected!
Welcome to another edition of Community. We’re excited to increase access to our quarterly magazine by providing this online version in addition to our print version. This means it will be easier for everyone to read, watch and share the content we put together for you, and that we can add to it between issues.
It also means when people search online for topics we’ve written about, our stories will come up, raising awareness of our work and opening doors for more people to engage with us or tap into our services. This kind of growth and access characterizes the Spinal Cord Injury Ontario community. No matter where we are in the province, our community members are working to improve things for people with spinal cord injury and other disabilities. On both a personal and systemic level, we are on alert for discrimination and inequality. We keep an eye on language, perceptions, portrayals; seizing every opportunity to help people become aware of what they think they know about disability and those who live with one.
Keeping the conversation going, initiating or contributing to open, respectful dialogue on the importance and the right to include everyone is where real change occurs. The notion of full accessibility is a symbol of that change. How easy does your local business make it for you to shop there? How much does your city or township invest in accessible sidewalks and public places? What are the supports made available by your government to create an equal playing field for us all, no matter our circumstances? How many people understand that what’s good for one is good for all? That making it work for everyone should be where things naturally start? Accessibility shouldn’t be an add-on or afterthought or an unwelcome, legislated order; it needs to be the new, the only, way. It’ll take time, for sure, but it will never happen without the shared vision that it simply must happen.
Our government relations and advocacy efforts are on fire, which means, of course, that there’s great need for increased equality and inclusion, and also that we are in a strong position to effect change. We have grown powerful relationships with people in all levels of the government, in business, in the charitable sector like our friends at the March of Dimes, with whom we just shared a Queen’s Park Day, in health care, with community groups and with individuals who are passionate about moving the needle on accessibility and equity. We’re proud to launch our #peeforfree campaign this month and excited about our next Queen’s Park Day in March, where we’ll talk with MPPs about the high cost of catheters and how the provincial government might help. And we’re pleased to keep working to improve things at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario so that we’re in an increasingly stronger position to achieve our vision of people with SCI living the life they choose in a fully inclusive Ontario. I invite you to enjoy the diverse collection of articles in this issue of Community, and to connect with me at any time to discuss our work.