SCIO Community Magazine
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Introducing Young Professionals Board Members

We are thrilled to introduce you to some of the members of our Young Professionals Board – talented people who volunteer their time to make SCIO even stronger.

Our Young Professionals Board provides an opportunity for young professionals to support the mission and vision of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, by acting as ambassadors, developing leadership skills and sharing technical knowledge and by engaging other community members in becoming the next generation of Directors.

The purpose of creating the Board was to reach a young population of community leaders to engage them in the Board development process, build future leaders and support fundraising efforts of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. Although the Young Professionals Board might be distinctly separate from the full Board of the organization, it is fully accountable for representing SCIO with integrity and respect. Members of the Board are dedicated and are working hard to further our mission. Here, we feature their stories so you will get to better know them and the great work they are doing.

Leigh Armstrong Leigh Armstrong
I previously worked at Travelers Canada (formerly Dominion of Canada General Insurance). In my role as Marketing Manager I worked on many Spinal Cord Injury Ontario events as the organization was Travelers’ charity of choice. I was responsible for the annual Travelers Curling Club Championship fundraiser event. Over my time at Travelers I led a team to raise $1.3 million dollars for SCI research, programs and services. Through these events and others, I gained a clear understanding of the organization. For the Young Professionals Board, I bring the skill-set of marketing, communications and events experience. I have a Degree in Marketing and studied at Fanshawe College and Western University. I am also a nationally competitive curler throwing lead rocks for Team Sherry Middaugh (Oakville) on the World Curling Tour. In 2013, I received the Jim & Sharon Vigmond Philanthropy Award from Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Darrell BookerDarrell Booker
I am one of the owners with In-Trend Home Solutions. My career originally began in construction. After five years working for a builder in the Niagara Region, I decided to continue my education and graduated from Griffith University in 2009. Upon return to Canada from Australia I started to work in business development. I worked as an Insurance Broker for three years before deciding to become an entrepreneur with a close friend from university. Working with people who have sustained a disability is something very close to me as my father sustained a severe injury when I was 18 when he was struck by a motor vehicle. Seeing this firsthand really changes your perspective and I think I can relate to those in this situation to provide assistance where needed.

Being involved with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario means a lot to me as we continue to create awareness and advocate for people with disabilities. I joined Spinal Cord Injury Ontario in 2017, and last year I was able to MC our annual comedy night. It has been a great experience so far as I have had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people at the organization and on the Young Professionals Board. I look forward to continue working alongside them in the future.

Omar Ha-RedeyeOmar Ha-Redeye
I’m a lawyer and health advocate who is pleased to be on the Young Professionals Board. I started out my career in clinical health care as a nuclear medicine technologist. I had a sports injury in 2004 which gave me significant mobility problems, which first raised my attention to accessibility issues. I embarked on further studies in physiotherapy, but ultimately opted to complete a law degree. I currently have a very small legal practice, where part of my focus is on health law, disabilities and discrimination in the workplace.

In addition to participating in Spinal Cord Injury Ontario events, I also sit on our advocacy committee. In this role, we look at laws and regulations and broader governmental actions, to ensure that people with spinal cord injuries receive appropriate care and supports in the community. My involvement with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is one of the most important ways I ensure that we continue to have a vibrant society that is inclusive to all, and provides me an outlet to push for further change.

Emily McIntyreEmily McIntyre
I worked as a researcher during an internship with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, as a partnership with York University where I was offered the Knowledge Mobilization award to help complete our study. Through this research, we were able to better understand gaps in health and community services for individuals in Ontario and provide a detailed report and presentation to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

I have completed a Master’s in Critical Disability studies from the School of Health Policy and Management at York University. My major research paper deconstructs disabling spaces in Nepal’s tourism industry and dismantles stereotypes about what type of body should be in the workplace and participating in risky activities. I am currently an employee at York University working as a Research Co-ordinator on four SSHRC and CIHR funded projects related to health policy and I also manage the students.

I am passionate to help ameliorate the negative effects of health inequalities and disparities through research that offers recommendations at the policy, program and system level. I am dedicated to tackling systemic barriers that impact individuals with disabilities. I have lived experience of breaking my neck and have a brain injury and as such, I have felt the lived effects of systemic barriers of access to care. I am committed to providing a critical disability lens to policy and care.

Outside of research, I directed an inclusive adventure race, Wildcat Adventure Race, to break down barriers of who can participate together in sport. I also have six years of experience in the tourism industry and have led accessible tours, and I am a technical committee member for the Standards Council of Canada/International Organization for Standardization to help form standards for accessible tourism in Canada and beyond.

I love working on the Young Professionals Board in creative and productive ways and I am very much looking forward to the 2019 Comedy Night!

Chris StigasChris Stigas
In November 2014, I sustained a C5 C6 spinal cord injury. Prior to that I worked as a commercial industrial electrician. Since then my life has done a complete 180° turn. All of the things I thought mattered, really didn’t matter. I now had to face a whole new world of actual problems, adaptations, and just simply surviving day to day, literally minute to minute.

My journey has taken me through the full spectrum of the health care system from the 911 call, to emergency decompression surgery, ICU, inpatient, outpatient, rehab, transitional housing, and finally living independently in the community.

As my recovery progressed, I began to look at how I could re-engage myself with life. Advocacy quickly became a natural and easy fit for me. Now four years out I am on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Council for the United Health Network, I have recently been appointed by the City of Toronto to the Advisory Council on Accessibility to the TTC (ACAT). In between all that I have managed to create my own product called the HandiCup which is a para and tetraplegic friendly cup holder for both manual and power wheelchairs that is available online.

This past October I rolled my first 5k marathon, and was the highest fundraiser for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. From there I was invited to the Young Professionals Board, and I happily accepted. So far, I have only participated in one general meeting, but I consider myself a very resourceful and positive person. I am graciously excited to bring these qualities to the Young Professionals Board and help move forward the fantastic work they and all their people do for 2019 and years to come any way I can.

Stay tuned for more profiles of members of our Young Professionals Board

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario | Winter 2019

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