Spinal cord awareness involves spending a day in wheelchair

Community leaders in the Red Deer region are being asked to try to spend an entire day in a wheelchair in support of spinal cord awareness month in May.

Community leaders in the Red Deer region are being asked to try to spend an entire day in a wheelchair in support of spinal cord awareness month in May.

The Alberta chapter of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, in partnership with Motion Specialities, is hosting its 3rd annual Chair-Leaders event to pay tribute to spinal cord injury awareness.

The Chair-Leaders initiative also seeks to raise awareness about the barriers people with mobility disabilities face daily.

“Most people take it for granted that they can walk down the street and get off whenever they want,” said Tina Croswell of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Red Deer Region.

“People in wheelchairs can’t; they have to wait for a spot where the curb is cut off.”

The Chair-Leaders event rolls into Red Deer and across the province on May 24.

Participants will spend the morning in a wheelchair going about their usual daily tasks.

In the afternoon, from 1 to 5 p.m. they will meet back at Motion Specialities, a home health care vendor, on 43rd Street to try games and obstacle courses from their chairs and share their experiences.

Radio station DJs and city hall officials from Red Deer participated in the event last year and said it was an “eye-opener,” said Croswell.

“Many noticed that if someone was to get a spinal cord injury in their workplace, they wouldn’t be able to get into the office,” she said.

According to the Rick Hansen Institute, securing regular work is a huge barrier when it comes to people with spinal cord injuries.

The unemployment rate for people with spinal cord injuries is 62 per cent, according to the institute.

Additionally, over 42,000 Canadians suffer from spinal cord injuries, with approximately 1,100 new spinal cord injuries occurring each year. About 100 of these happen in Alberta.

If you’re a community leader wishing to participate, contact Jeff Dow or Wanda Seifreid at 403-341-6060 or by email at jeff.dow@cpa-ab.org or wandada.seifried@cpa-ab.org.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com