SCIO Community Magazine
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Summer 2019

Community Magazine Cover Summer 2019

Opening Notes: 2018-19 - A Strong Year

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

This past year has been an exciting one for SCIO. We celebrated our achievements and all the ways our community came together at our Annual General Meeting, held June 19 at Lyndhurst.

We were very happy to welcome everyone who participated in our AGM, both in person at Lyndhurst and online across the province. Technology gave us a wider reach to our members, which is a priority for us to better communicate with our community. Online viewers were able to actively participate in our meeting, being able to pose questions, and vote in polls in favour or opposition to a motion. This truly gave everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions during our meeting.

As we prepared for our AGM, we looked back at the achievements we’d made over the past year and how we stickhandled the challenges we’ve faced. And, every year, it strikes me that, through it all, our strong community, no matter where they are in the province, are helping to identify a need or a problem, finding solutions and making the changes we need to achieve our mission and vision. Bob Nigol, the Chair of the Board and I were proud to report that we had a very strong year.

As we reported in the annual report there was a lot going on this past year.

Our first strategic priority is to Expand our Impact across Ontario.

It’s a big province and there are people with SCI living in every corner but there aren’t always services and supports where they need it. So, it’s important for us to have as wide an impact as possible.

  • Many of you will have heard us talk about VIP4SCI. It’s a web-based platform that allows users to connect with their health care network using a computer, tablet or mobile phone. This means bringing medical care and our own RSCs and peer support co-ordinators into a community where there may not be a SCI clinic or we may not have an office. It’s currently being tested with a small group of clients and medical professionals, and we think it’ll make a big difference.
  • You will also likely have heard about – or attended – one of our Community Celebration events this past year. We hosted events in Barrie, Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, York and Hamilton. Bringing our community members together in one place to celebrate the collaboration and commitment they show all year is a lot of fun. It’s also important because when people come together, they talk, plan, solve problems and expand their thinking.
  • In March, we launched our #peeforfree campaign at Queen’s Park with a terrific turn out of community and MPPs. This campaign is helping spread the word that the cost of catheters is simply too high. And it’s getting noticed, which could very well translate into reduced costs for thousands of catheter users.

Our second strategic priority is to Share Knowledge.

We really do believe that knowledge is power because we’ve seen what happens when the right information gets to those who need it. Fear and frustration lessen and confidence grows.

  • This past year we developed an innovative new learning program called Cortree and we’re excited about launching it. Our Knowledge Exchange team have produced a series of dynamic and interactive courses that our community has identified as important: Choosing a Wheelchair, Sex and Disability, Vehicle Modification, Nutrition & Kitchen Accessibility and a Pain Management series. We’ve just invited our core community members to log in and try them out so we’ll hear soon how they’ve been received.
  • As you may know, there aren’t enough physicians in this province who are trained to work with patients with SCI. One of the ways we’re helping change that is partnering with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) Professional Learning Series. We’ve put our own expertise forward and invited our partners in health care to build a certified series for physicians and this year we hosted a well-attended web conference on chronic pain.
  • From our Marketing & Communications department came new initiatives to inform and engage our community. We launched a new website, produced videos to support our advocacy campaigns, updated our magazine and developed an online version, and got very active on our social media channels. The more people who know about our objectives, the more they can help meet them.

Our last strategic priority is to Amplify Our Community’s Voice

Voice is all about expanding our advocacy efforts, strengthening partnerships and promoting equitable services.

  • As part of our Your Move, Ontario campaign leading up to the June 2018 election, we built the structure for our community to start conversations with MPPs across the province. They talked about four issues which are still urgent for people with SCI: accessible health care; access to affordable medical supplies; access to mobility devices; and a commitment to AODA goals.
  • In January, we hosted a great day with rehab centres across the province. They are our service partners when it comes to being there as early as possible in the SCI journey and the stronger we can make our partnerships, the better for our community. The conference looked at inequities between rehab centres and ways to implement and measure best practices.
  • In keeping with the theme of giving voice to issues that keep people with SCI from living the lives they choose, our Client Services department spearheaded a project to assess the need for mobility equipment. They worked with vendors and our community to gather information on developing a donated used equipment program. With complicated and expensive logistics, it will be a challenge but we’re hoping our Resource Development department will help with sourcing funding and sponsorships, as they’ve done so well this past year.

The spirit of changing things for the better is alive and well at SCIO – we see it every day with personal contributions, new programs and services, and lots of new partnerships between government, business and health care.

I want to thank all of our donors and sponsors for their support and leadership. Thank you to our clients and other volunteers for your generous contribution of many hours of service and to our staff for your dedicated work this past year. And last, but certainly not least, thanks to our clients and other community members for continuing to guide us in our work and for helping us build our future!

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