Who do you know?

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Can you take a few moments today to think about the people you know who are managing physical challenges? Has your sister or father suffered a stroke and now finds walking or picking up objects difficult? Does your cousin, aunt, or best friend have a vision or hearing loss?

I reflected on those in my life who have physical challenges. And was amazed to see that I am connected to many people:

  • Stepmother and close friend – ALS (reduced strength in all limbs)
  • Aunt – hip challenges (difficulty walking or transferring weight when sitting and standing)
  • Father – stroke and bone infection (reduced strength in one leg and one hand)
  • Friend – MS (intermittent vision loss and reduced ability to walk)
  • Old friend – sudden profound hearing loss
  • Friend’s brother – quadriplegic due to an accident at home

I realized something important: my friends and family are finding it difficult to do their daily activities or connect with others because we have designed our world with too many physical barriers.

The good news is that you and I can change this. The Rick Hansen Foundation has innovative programs that encourage Canadians to design and build spaces for everyone! Join our movement and be part of the solution! Please consider making a donation today.

Here’s the problem: as one friend with ALS tells me, “I can do so much more – get around my neighbourhood, go to a movie or play, shop, and meet friends at a restaurant – if I could just gain access to these places. But the movie theatre can’t accommodate a power scooter. The store shelves are too high to reach and the aisles are too narrow. Doors don’t include an automated button. The restaurants say they’re wheelchair accessible– yet they have a step at the entrance! And transit is a huge challenge – I have to pre-plan everything to take advantage of the few accessible options.”

These physical barriers are getting in the way of my friend living her life to her full potential.

Yet we design these barriers. The solution to breaking down physical barriers is called universal design – creating buildings and public spaces for everyone – not just for able-bodied young people that our current design is oriented towards.

With your support, Canadian icon, para-athlete, and disability advocate Rick Hansen and his team are finding solutions!

The first step is identifying physical barriers. Our Access & Inclusion team designed accessibility audits so that the managers and staff at our stores, city halls, community centres, and parks can learn more about what their customers need. A team of trained accessibility experts, including people with disabilities, will conduct audits and provide recommendations on how the space can be made physically accessible for everyone.

Also, to inspire building designers and developers to use universal design, we’re developing an Accessibility Certification Program that provides information, support, and incentives to do just that – expand our current design parameters so that we incorporate the needs of people of all ages, all stages of life, and all abilities.

Think about the people you know who are challenged by physical barriers. Then take a moment to tell us more about the people in your life who are facing physical barriers by completing the anonymous “My Circle” survey. You can be part of the solution! Join us in creating a truly inclusive Canada, regardless of age, stage in life, or differences with mobility, vision and hearing. Together, we will achieve transformational change.

Yours for a more inclusive Canada,





Renee Eaton
Director, Community Giving
Rick Hansen Foundation
[email protected]
(778) 296-1550