SCIO Community Magazine
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Spring 2023

MSpring 2023 cover image depicting an illustration of mental health.

New Begginnings

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

Spring is a time of new beginnings. This is particularly true for SCIO this year. On March 31st, we closed out our fiscal year and the last year of our old Strategic Plan. As I look back at our primary objectives: expanding our reach; sharing knowledge; and amplifying our community’s voice, we had some significant successes; such as significant growth in our social media channels, the creation of valuable resources on our Cortree education platform and organizing engaged constituents during multiple elections. However, we were significantly handcuffed in achieving our goals over the last three years by COVID.
COVID has not gone, but it has diminished as a threat and life is adjusting. As an organization, we are not simply stepping back into doing things as we did pre-COVID.

The world is not the same and we have to adapt. We need to embrace some of the positive changes: hybrid work, the explosion in virtual connections and virtual care, and the deep appreciation for being able to gather in person – something we all took for granted for so long.

Our new three-year strategic plan will be formally launched at our Annual General Meeting in June.

This plan was developed with input from all our key stakeholders; our clients and community members, our health care and community partners, our volunteers and our donors. We were emphatically told that we need to continue to reinforce the continuity of access to care and resources, to continue to enhance our peer experiences, strengthen our corporate partnerships and focus on action-oriented advocacy. We took the input to heart and have built a plan that builds on the positive changes from the pandemic and accounts for the challenging fiscal, operational and personal realities we are all facing.

In this edition of Community, you will be able to read more about one of the positives we are embracing – our ability to gather as a community at events like our 22nd annual Ski & Snowboard Day and our new event Celebrity Axe Battle. and one of the challenges we are all facing – mental ill-health – through the eyes of community members and staff.

The big wave of COVID may have passed, but the ripple effects are still being felt. Living with an SCI is sometimes described as a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Living that journey builds great strength, determination and resilience in people that is mirrored within our organization. We need those characteristics as, to quote a long-time peer mentor, “Stuart, we have come a long way over the past 70+ years, but we still have a long way to go...and don’t you forget it!”.

We have a new Strategic Plan and are starting to take the first steps on the next leg of our continuing journey to ensure that everyone impacted by an SCI can thrive.

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