SCIO Community Magazine
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Spring 2021

Community Magazine Cover Spring 2021

Seeing the light?

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

As I write this in early spring, the opposing forces of sun and wind, of light and shade, so eloquently described by Charles Dickens, seems apropos of our current reality: lockdowns and easing restrictions; rising case counts and rising vaccination rates. Most days we do seem to be taking two steps forward for every one step back in our fight with COVID and hopefully, by the time you read this, we will finally be talking with renewed optimism about spring 2021 as a time of new beginnings, rejuvenation and growth.

We fervently hope this is the case as our organization is beginning new initiatives, is rejuvenating our programming, and is looking to grow our impact.

As I noted in the last issue of Community, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the mental health of us all. In response, we have collated a number of resources freely accessible to our community. You can find them in the COVID-19 section of our website.

In addition, we are currently partnering with colleagues at Parkwood Institute in London, ON, to offer internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT) support. More details to come!

One of the benefits of the pandemic – they are few and far between, but they are out there – is the explosion in the availability of virtual care. This has curtailed the development of our own virtual platform, the original VIP4SCI, but it has provided us with an opportunity to rejuvenate; to reimagine how we can best support the virtual connectivity and information needs of our community. You will be seeing more on VIP4SCI over the next few months.

We had already identified the need to grow our advocacy capacity. This need became paramount during the pandemic, with so much advocacy required around issues such as the PSW shortage and access to vaccines. Unfortunately, rather than growing our capacity we have ended up with a reduced capacity…for now! On March 31st the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) closed its doors for the last time. We were one of the founders of ONF, and for the past 23 years ONF had been spearheading research into neurotrauma and the development and implementation of best practices for clinical care, rehabilitation and community reintegration – the key building blocks for policy and practice change that were the foundation for many of our advocacy campaigns. We are pleased that the Ministry of Health is committed to continue funding the work started by ONF and we are fully engaged in the development of a new funding model that will ensure the legacy of ONF continues. While the government will fund research and the development of best practices, it will not fund advocacy efforts – that is up to us. So, to help us grow our capacity, over the next couple of months you will see us ramping up our fundraising efforts. We will solicit support from foundations, companies and individuals to ensure we can continue to advocate for critical supports and services for our community.

And on the subject of financial support from companies, we cannot overstate our gratitude to the numerous companies that already support our organization through our sponsorship program. You can learn about some of these critical partnerships in this edition of Community.

Please stay safe and well. The light at the end of the COVID tunnel is getting brighter and it will continue to do so as spring turns to summer.

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