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The Disability Foundation of Vancouver

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-03-01 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-18) - The Disability Foundation is deeply involved in serving people with disabilities and making sure that opportunity for involvement in life and living exists. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World at Disabled World.

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The Disability Foundation is deeply involved in serving people with disabilities and making sure that opportunity for involvement in life and living exists.

The Disability Foundation, along with its affiliated organizations, were founded by Sam Sullivan after he experienced quadriplegia due to a skiing accident at age nineteen. Several years later, Mr. Sullivan became the Mayor of Vancouver and received international attention after waving both the Paralympic and Olympic flags during the closing ceremonies at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. His actions have shown the entire world what people with disabilities have the ability to do once physical barriers in the landscape have been overcome. What possible better qualification could there be to present the face of the Paralympics

The message is one of hope, and it is central to the organizations that Mr. Sullivan has formed. There are a number of organizations that are affiliated with The Disability Foundation of Vancouver. The Tetra Society recruits volunteers with technical skills - these volunteers have created greater than five-thousand custom made assistive devices for people with disabilities throughout locations in North America. ConnecTra Society, another organization affiliated with The Disability Foundation, has connected in excess of a thousand people who experience a form of disability with volunteer positions, social opportunities, part-time and full-time employment. The Disabled Sailing Association has prompted the formation of twenty different sailing programs throughout North America. It has one-hundred and forty specially-designed sip-and-puff sixteen-foot sailboats that are currently being used across the world today.

The BC Mobility Opportunity Society's Wilderness Access Program has fifty of their, 'TrailRiders,' that are being used in programs across North America. These TrailRiders have enabled some of the program's members to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as to the base camp of Mount Everest. Vancouver Adapted Music Society operates a music studio in the GF Strong Rehab Center that has introduced hundreds of people with disabilities to music. The Disabled Independent Gardeners Association has two community gardens; they have workshops on a consistent basis for people with disabilities.

In other words, The Disability Foundation is deeply involved in serving people with disabilities and making sure that opportunity for involvement in life and living exists. From the beginning of its operations in the late 1980's, the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation has raised greater than twenty-million dollars, as well as improving the quality of life opportunities, for greater than ten-thousand people who experience significant forms of disabilities. The Foundation currently supports six different non-profit organizations, as well as a number of other initiatives. Every one of them provides services to people with disabilities across the nation of Canada and beyond. In recognition of his exemplary service to people with disabilities, Mr. Sullivan was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2005. He has received the Terry Fox Award, as well as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award, and a number of other honors.

The Disability Foundation is comprised of six different affiliated societies. Together, these societies offer a number of different services for people who experience significant disabilities, and are centered around leisure. The services also include providing custom assistive devices. Each of these societies has its own newsletter.

Take a Hike: BC Mobility Opportunities Society
The Link: ConnecTra Society
Grow with DIGA: Disabled Independent Gardeners Association
Setting Sail: Disabled Sailing Association of BC
Gizmo: Tetra Society of North America
Sounds: Vancouver Adapted Music Society

The Disability Caucus

The Concept for creating a Disability Caucus in relation to The Disability Foundation happened as a result of a meeting between Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island and then Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan. Both experience quadriplegia, and both agreed that a forum might bring politicians with disabilities together in a useful way. The goals of the Disability Caucus are to encourage more people with disabilities to enter public office, and to provide a forum for the discussion of disability issues.

At the first inaugural meeting of the Disability Caucus, the members recognized that people with disabilities were experiencing the same kinds of issues in both Canada and America. Along with Sam Sullivan and Jim Langevin were a number of other founding members: Steven Fletcher, Federal Member of Parliament, Winnipeg; Tim Louis, City Councilor, Vancouver, Canada; and Representative Tom Kennedy, Massachusetts Legislature.

In several communities throughout North America, people with disabilities are effective in lobbying efforts for societies that are more inclusive via advocacy organizations and personal initiative. People with disabilities are also taking part in civil service in a number of governments. The roles we are filling are helping to improve the lives of everyone with a disability. The Disability Caucus believes that more people with disabilities need to take a place in both seeking and attaining public offices. Doing so is an important symbol of the full participation of people with disabilities in community life; it goes a long way towards ensuring that disability issues receive the attention they deserve from political leaders.

The position of, 'Politician,' is one of the few professions that has no formal academic requirements. One of the most important indicators of the ability to succeed as a politician is a history of community service. People with disabilities who are serious about collective political life need to involve themselves in their particular community in a number of different ways. They need to contribute to the disability community through volunteering for advocacy groups - it is an excellent way to begin community service. People with disabilities who are aspiring candidates should also realize that they need to broaden their knowledge and constituencies through serving in communities outside of the disability community. Each of their efforts should be made to expand their knowledge of a wide-variety of disciplines - such as sociology, economics, philosophy, psychology, as well as history.

Everyone is not suited for elected public office because of the many elements that are essential, which change from election to election. There are; however, certain attributes that are useful for people who are interested in serving through public office.

Questions to ask yourself if you are interested include:

Do you have a constituency of people who believe in you and respect your motivations and capabilities
Are you able to work well with people
Can you inspire others to work toward a common goal

In the majority of jurisdictions, political office is determined through political parties. Politicians seeking office should choose the party that represents their ideals the best, volunteering for that party in some way. Through involvement in political organizations during an election time, an aspiring politician can learn a great deal, as well as establish relationships which may become useful at a later time. While only a few people involved in any particular party will go on to become a candidate, involvement in the political process can be highly rewarding. The experience of being involved in the political process can give citizens a better understanding of how their government works, as well as access to a network of people who are involved in their community.

The Disability Caucus at The Disability Foundation wants to know if you are a person with a disability who is interested in politics. If you are interested in running for office and have any questions for members of the Disability Caucus, they would be pleased to receive a note bio, or resume from you. One of their members will attempt to respond to you as quickly as possible - www.disabilityfoundation.org - The Disability Foundation





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