Monday, 28 May 2018

Disability and my Faith by Sarah Evans

A few years ago, I was out in my community when I came across a group of Christian evangelists. As soon as they saw that I was in a wheelchair, they immediately said something to the effect of, "We'll pray for God to heal you."  Unfortunately, this kind of experience is not unique (I have heard other people with disabilities tell me of similar experiences). It was not their faith that turned me off. I have been a Christian my whole life. But like many other people, whether or not they have a faith or spirituality, these individuals assumed as soon as they saw me that my greatest need to make my life better was the ability to walk (or getting rid of my disability altogether).

Many people with disabilities and their families are part of religious, faith and spiritual communities. Although often well-meaning, a lack of education about disabilities can create barriers in these communities.

Attitude is one such barrier, like the individuals I met on the street. They noticed my disability and my wheelchair before they noticed me. Some people believe that any type of disability or illness is a punishment from God for something that the individual or a close relative did. Instead of being received with one of these harmful attitudes, people with disabilities and their families have to be seen as people first with unique gifts and needs. We can't tell just by looking at a person what they need. 

Another type of barrier is physical.  I was quite fortunate because the churches that I have attended have mostly been physically accessible,  but sometimes smaller groups within the church are hosted in people's homes which are not accessible and transportation to and from people's houses can be challenging when the bus may drop you off very early or pick you up really late. 

Recently, I saw presentations about theology and disability.  It is encouraging to know that other people are thinking about this important issue and I hope that this will be the beginning of a larger discussion that will make such communities more inclusive for people with all abilities.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Be Inclusive by Krystian Shaw

The Be inclusive Movement and Inclusion.

For people that haven't heard it is #beinclusive awareness day on June 1st where people are encouraged to wear blue shirts for inclusion of everyone. No matter your skin color, your gender or who you love and if you have a disability or not, this movement is for the purpose of raising awareness in society about not excluding anyone and to stomp out bullying forever.

Being excluded even by adults is another form of bullying.

This movement came about when Lynda Honing and her daughter, Isabelle was slighted when she said hi. So her mom Lynda came up with an idea to start this new movement. Her hope is for it to spread around the world. 

I love this new movement because it’s positive and very Inspiring and uplifting, especially for those of all abilities. No one should be excluded in society today.

Way to go Lynda and Isabelle for starting this movement.

In Kamloops BC Canada, there is a Funfest run by a day program called Options & Opportunities. Funfest happens every year but this year will be extra special because of this movement. There will be lunch that costs 5 dollars, and the Lunch is a pizza slice, a snack and a pop or juice.  But most things are free. It’s open to the whole community and is held at a park. I will wear a blue shirt on that day, June 1st.  I will also have a booth and play a game about what inclusion means.

Remember June 1st is #beinclusive Awareness day. Please wear blue to show your support that all should be included. For more info go to:

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Andrew Greer, Ability Online intern receives kudos for his film

Media Studies student receives kudos for his film

Andrew Greer, a recent graduate of the Media Studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber, said being able to translate the skills learned in the classroom seamlessly into the workplace during his internship boosted his confidence.

It also made him realize he was qualified to meet the demands of the competitive job market.

Greer received a job placement with Ability Online, a supportive online community for children, teens and young adults with disabilities or health challenges, with the help of U of GH’s Career and Placement Services. During his semester-long internship, Greer was able to handle several tasks: designing posters, creating content for the organization’s website and helping organize events.

“I was initially nervous going into the job,” said Greer, who specialized in digital communications. “But, when I started working, I felt I was prepared. Guelph-Humber gave me a broad range of skills that I could successfully apply in the real world.”
One of Greer’s major projects for Ability Online was creating a four-minute video, “Capable to Unstoppable” featuring Jess Silver, a fitness instructor and trailblazer with cerebral palsy.

The story of Jess Silver
In 2015, Silver founded Flex for Access, an organization whose mandate is to connect people with disabilities find trainers and accessible and integrated gyms.

Ability Online wanted the film to show Silver’s indomitable strength and spirit.

“Ability Online has always focused on promoting the abilities of young people with disabilities; rather than focusing on what they can’t do,” said Michelle McClure, executive director, Ability Online. “What I liked most about working with Andrew on this project was his immediate comfort level around people with disabilities. He knew when to ask for clarification and when it came time to filming, he was professional and efficient. The video truly captured the spirit of the charity, celebrating the accomplishments of young people of all abilities.”

Greer credits the University of Guelph-Humber for equipping him all the necessary tools needed to hit the ground running during his internship.

 “The work that Jess was doing ignited something in me and I realized she had a really fascinating story,” Greer said adding two of his classmates Jouison Coloma and Lucas Morris helped him with the filming portion. “The message I tried to convey in the video was, ‘yes, you can do this’…”

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Tennis Anyone? By Sarah Evans

I recently started playing wheelchair tennis. I found out about this opportunity through the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association at the Abilities Expo, which came to Toronto in January. It was a godsend and encouraged me to get out into the community and be more active like I used to be. 

l play tennis on Monday evenings at a tennis center in Scarborough that is run by the city. We play in a large bubble, which I like. As the summer is coming, I look forward to playing on outdoor courts. 

The session is two hours each week. We begin by driving around pylons in sort of an obstacle course, which is easy for me because I use an electric wheelchair. Then we practice a series of skills,  which include rallying (that is hitting the ball to each other),  hitting high balls and serving. We usually end by just playing a game. 

I am really enjoying tennis.  I play with a nice little community of people.  Sometimes I get discouraged and think that I am not very good because I miss a lot of balls, but then someone tells me that I did well or that I am getting better and I am reassured and remember to be patient with myself. It has also motivated me to work out and build the muscles in my arms so that I can hit the ball better.

To find out more about wheelchair tennis is the GTA, please visit