SCIO Community Magazine
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Summer 2020

Amid the growing loss and pain in our communities, and around the world, it became a time to reflect and rethink how we work. shop and socialize.

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Opening Notes: Rolling Through Barriers as a Community

Stuart Howe
Dr. Stuart Howe | CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

In the middle of a cold, raw March in Ontario, we began to realize the very real danger the coronavirus could have on every aspect of our lives. Amid the growing loss and pain in our communities, and around the world, it became a time to reflect and rethink how we work. shop and socialize. And in the wake of worldwide protests against racial oppression. we’ve become acutely aware of the deep and destructive systemic barriers that go beyond those related to disability. 

It’s been an emotional and complex 2020 and, from my vantage point as CEO for this strong and proud charity, I feel in the wake of such challenges. a new clarity has emerged. I see a more direct route to achieving the organizational goals we’ve set before us. I see the many barriers facing our community members with SCI and their families, and I see our role in helping dismantle them -through advocacy. policy change, services, education and collaboration in the creation of lasting solutions. This is what we’ve done for the last 75 years, but somehow the intention and route to do so has become more potent and visible. Is it that when the chaos of a global pandemic starts to lessen. the simplicity of our work, our values and our sources of joy reveal themselves? 

I haven’t figured out exactly why this clarity is here, and perhaps I won’t bother to try. I just know that my discussions with colleagues. Board members. clients. family members. volunteers, donors and partners from the medical, govern­ment and business sectors have been exhilarating as much as they’ve been productive. I know I’m not the only one who feels this renewed commitment to finding the resolve, resources and ingenuity to address these barriers. once and for all. 

HERE ARE SOME OF THE WAYS WE ARE WORKING WITH OUR COMMUNITY TO DO THAT: 

  • Our #peeforfree campaign is being refreshed and reworked -with a powerful new committee that is setting out to produce a Business Case for the government to change and improve access to medical supplies. {Read more about this from Project Manager John Gregory.) 
  • We are engaging our community in new ways to solicit their participation and engagement at every level our June 24 Annual General Meeting and Town Hall was a great example of that. 
  • We have established a comprehensive Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) program that all staff will participate in this year.
  • Information sharing at SCIO has risen to a whole new level. with community members with SCI and others taking to video to share their expertise in fun and fundamental ways through CortreeTV. 
  • Though our face-to-face events have been cancelled due to COVID-19. that hasn’t stopped us from connecting with each other through portals such as VIP4SCI and our new virtual Peer Connections events.  

Rolling Through Barriers

Through all this, our supporters have come to understand their philanthropic contributions, at any level, are critical in breaking down barriers that have too long kept people with spinal cord injury from living the life they choose in a fully inclusive Ontario. Our Safe@Home campaign reached its fundraising goals, thanks to generous donors and a match from our Board of Directors. And July’s Rolling Through Barriers Month was a fabulous expression of support, where a diverse group – from mayors to law firms to radio personali­ties to schoolchildren to Members of Parliament – spoke out publicly about the need for accessibility for all and ‘demolition crews’ raised funds and shared creative videos of rolling through personal barriers. 

Thanks to our community for being strong in the face of barriers of all kinds, and for being an active part of the movement to break them down with solution-focused clarity.

Stuart

Dr. Stuart Howe | Summer 2020

CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

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