Eva M. received much needed support from MODC's Assistive Devices Program!

Let’s Talk About: Eva M.!

Eva M. received much needed support from MODC's Assistive Devices Program!

Eva is a 61 year old female living in a retrofitted apartment in Barrie, Ontario. She has multiple sclerosis, which limits her mobility to using a power wheelchair to get around and make herself comfortable. Her previous chair was 4 years old and broken beyond repair.

Eva’s occupational therapist (OT) helped her apply to the Ministry of Health’s Assistive Devices Program, which approved 75% funding for a new power wheelchair that cost $5,427.60. This left Eva with 25% to cover. Her finances were very limited, so she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford this necessary piece of equipment. Her occupational therapist helped her apply to the Independent Living Services of Simcoe County & Area, the MS Society, and March of Dimes Canada’s Assistive Devices Program.

The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) http://bit.ly/ModcADP helps people with disabilities across the province to pay for the cost and maintenance of basic mobility devices, as well as home and bath safety equipment. ADP is one of March of Dimes Canada’s charitable programs that is supported entirely by donor dollars (including via the Door to Door campaign). Many of the people who benefit from ADP live on an income of less than $15,000.00 per year, meaning that assistive devices are often financially out of reach. At ADP, every dollar is stretched to its fullest potential so staff can provide necessary, life-changing devices to Ontarians who desperately need – but can’t afford – them.

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Eva’s November 2015 application was denied, so she continued her fundraising efforts. In January 2016 –with some funding through the MS Society behind her – March of Dimes Canada’s Assistive Devices Program was able to help out. The result: a fully funded new power wheelchair.

The power wheelchair has been ordered and Eva is very excited because her current wheelchair is unsafe – pieces are falling off and the foot component is dragging. She says that, if she has to take it out, she has difficulty negotiating ramps and is very nervous. Eva knows the new wheelchair will make her feel more secure and confident.

“This wheelchair will keep me independent and out of long-term care and just having it lifts my spirits.”

Eva is very grateful to March of Dimes Canada’s Assistive Devices Program for the support, and March of Dimes Canada is equally grateful to the donors who make it possible for us to help people in the Barrie area. Eva now has peace of mind and a safe way to get around in her apartment and her community.

ADP as mentioned, is also partly funded by our Door-to-Door Program, which runs from November to late March. If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header! You can also become an online canvasser at www.mymod.ca/doortodoor

Madison. ".. it wasn't long before she was able to start standing on her own." - New Community Blog Post!

Let’s Talk About: Madison!

Madison. ".. it wasn't long before she was able to start standing on her own." - New Community Blog Post!

Last summer, we met little Madison. In just one short year, she has opened the doors to a world of independence with hard work, and your commitment to help!

Madison’s family found March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® (CE) Program after discovering that Madison wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones as a baby. Her parents worried that she would be facing a lifetime of frustration and challenges. But, because CE is one of the only programs available to very young children in Canada, it was a perfect opportunity for her to start facing those challenges with a supportive team right beside her.

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In her first CE session, she learned to sit independently! It wasn’t long before she was able to start standing on her own, and learning to walk with her walker.

Now, a full year later, Madison is a girl on the move! She’s a bright and confident child who loves learning how to jump and how to use her quad canes. She is working on stamina, core strength and balance, controlled breathing and purposeful movements of her body. She is able to figure out for herself how to change positions and stand independently. Most importantly, she has found her voice – she advocates for herself, she makes sure she is heard!

Check out this video explaining our Conductive Education Program, which also features Madison!

She swims! She plays with her friends! She rides her horse! She can conquer ANYTHING that life puts in front of her. Today, she takes charge of her world like the little fighter she is! Way to go Madison!

CE® is also one of our donor funded programs, partly funded by our Door-to-Door Program, which runs from November to late March. If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header!

 

"Maida de Stein has been canvassing for MODC for over 2 decades!"

Let’s Talk About: Maida De Stein!

"Maida de Stein has been canvassing for MODC for over 2 decades!"

Written by Tina Siegel

Maida de Stein has been canvassing for March of Dimes Canada for over 2 decades, just like her mother used to do, and she has it down to a science.

Every year, Maida gets out her lists of phone numbers and addresses, and calls ahead to ask for pledges. She keeps careful records, then only goes to the homes of people who have agreed to donate. It’s quick and efficient.

That’s one secret to Maida’s success: organization.

‘But it’s a chance to catch up sometimes, too,’ she adds. ‘I know everyone on my route. I have a personal relationship with them.’

Maida goes beyond her route, as well. She approaches relatives, friends, members of her book club and tai chi class – anyone who might be willing to donate, or who has donated in the past. This often takes her well beyond her assigned canvass.

That’s another secret: personal relationships.

Maida also gives as much as she gets. She’ll often propose an exchange – you donate this much to my charity, and I’ll donate the same amount to yours. Everyone wins.

And that’s the last secret to Maida’s success: mutual benefit.

The result: Maida is one of MODC’s most successful canvassers, raising about $1,500 every year for a total of nearly $12,000 since 2002. She’s the first to acknowledge that it’s hard work, but also that it’s worth it.

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Every dollar Maida collects goes straight towards supporting kids like Zachary (see photo), who are benefitting from MODC’s innovative Conductive Education® (CE) program. CE is designed to help people with neurological motor disorders like cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s to gain mobility and more independence. http://bit.ly/ModcCEP

‘It’s a tough job,’ she says, ‘but very rewarding.’

If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header!

A Stair Lift for Mrs. Gill!

Mrs. Gill resides in Brampton with her family in a 2 story home. In 2014 she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. This condition left her with limited mobility and dependent on oxygen. At the time of her application a family member had taken a leave from work to offer necessary care to her. For the most part, Mrs. Gill remained confined to the upper floor of her home. The stairs to the main level of the house were dangerous and a 2 person lift to bring her up and down the stairs was necessary, which there was a significant safety issue. Mrs. Gill was not able to safely exit her or engage with her family in simple activities such as having dinner in the dining room.

Mrs. Gill next to her new Stair lift!

With funding approved through March of Dimes Canada’s Home and Vehicle Modification Program a stair lift was installed. This equipment offers a safe method of transition between the levels of the home and Mrs. Gill is now able to access the essential areas and is able to interact with her family on a regular basis.

Here is a a wonderful letter we received from her son:

Good afternoon,

I have attached pictures of the stair lift used by my mother. Now she can access the ground floor using the stair lift to have lunch in the kitchen and to go for a doctor’s appointment. I can see her happy face when she used it for the first time. It’s been a long time since she’s been to the kitchen – she didn’t even recognize the kitchen area! This was mainly due to these parts of the house being inaccessible.

I appreciate March of Dimes Canada for providing this equipment. My mother said, “Thank you.” I’m sure she will enjoy the benefits for the rest of her life. Here are a few examples of these benefits:

  • She is now able to visit the doctor’s for appointments, as well as a clinic, hospital or temple.
  • She can now visit the kitchen on the ground floor to have lunch or dinner with her family.
  • She can now also visit the living room on the ground floor.
  • She can also exit the house in an emergency.

It has definitely improved her quality of life and has brought her cheer by improving her physical ability.

Regards,

Gurinder Gill.

For more information on our Home and Vehicle Modification Program, please visit: http://bit.ly/MODCHVMP

 

Life’s a beach for more people now at Lakeside Park

by Lorraine Nadeau

Access to the beach has taken on a new dimension at Lakeside Park in St. Catharines thanks to the addition of a Mobi Mat. A Mobi Mat is a portable walkway that sits on top the sand and creates an accessible path down to the water. While Lakeside Park is a regular destination for P.E.T. outings, this past trip was highlighted by the fact that our consumers using wheelchairs and with limited mobility were able to stroll out onto the beach and sit at the water’s edge.

P.E.T. Consumers Liane Roberts and Sarah Hamlin on the Mobi Mat

 

Pictured here are Liane Roberts and Sarah Hamlin, two P.E.T. consumers who have never been able to go out onto the beach before.  They were all smiles and enjoyed being able to easily wheel out onto the beach for the first time.  While we were there, it was clear we weren’t the only ones enjoying the beach’s new feature. The accessible pathway was also actively being used by other beach goers including seniors, children and moms with strollers, all of whom were just as pleased with the ease of access.

P.E.T. Consumers Liane Roberts and Sarah Hamlin on the Mobi Mat enjoying the water at Lakeside Park

A first for the region, the city wants to add other Mobi Mats to its beaches, and is looking for community partners to help support some of the costs. In addition to the Mobi Mat, the City of St. Catharines is stated to renovate the out-dated washrooms with increased accessibility and build a new pavilion so our future visits will be even more enjoyable.

The Personal Effectiveness Training Program (P.E.T.) is a therapeutic day activity program designed to enhance the quality of life of adults with disabilities and/or acquired brain injuries.  The program provides structured activities that promote the development of social, cognitive, physical and emotional skills that will lead to increased independence and community integration. The program is delivered in partnership by March of Dimes Canada and Brain Injury Community Re-Entry. For more information visit: http://bit.ly/MODCPET

“I’m The Lucky One”

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Bob Hallett (Great Big Sea) and Valdy have joined 13 singers from Spectra Talent Contest to record “I’m the Lucky One” – a charity single in support of March of Dimes Canada, Easter Seals Canada, and the Spectra Talent Contest (a non-profit organization that celebrates diversity in music).

“I’m the Lucky One” is a song about finding your soulmate, a rare and transformative experience.  Written from the perspective of an able-bodied person who falls madly in love with someone with a disability, this powerful love song addresses ableism and accessibility issues.


According to Ralph Hamelmann, RACA Executive Director and song co-writer, the inspiration for “I’m the Lucky One” came several years ago.  “At the time, I was a part-time Independent Living Assistant at Tobias House and had invited a couple of their Consumers to my home for a Christmas Eve gathering. When another guest found out I had invited people with disabilities, they said ‘Oh! They’re so lucky to know you!’  To this, I replied, ‘Not at all. I’m the lucky one!'”

Hamelmann adds, “From my experience, a fair number of people with disabilities experience isolation, which can lead to low self-esteem. I wanted to write a song that celebrates the beauty and authenticity I’ve witnessed firsthand in this community.”

This song is part of Spectra’s social media campaign #AllAbilitiesAreSexy, which aims to end the stigma around disabilities and is supported by Margaret Trudeau. See more about this and you can also purchase “I’m The Lucky One” here: http://thelucky1.ca/

” ‘You will dance again..’ rang in my ears! It was a challenge I thought impossible.” – Len Boser, Stroke Survivor

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Stroke Survivor Stories: Len Boser
Written by Len Boser.

Fifteen years ago, I woke up to find the course of my life had changed forever. The day before, I was a physically active, healthy person leading the normal life of a father of two young sons, 7 and 10 years old. Overnight, I had a severe brain stem stroke that left me unable to walk, to talk and completely paralyzed on my right side.

After one and a half years in the hospital, I felt frustrated and hopeless despite the care of doctors and many trained healthcare practitioners. Despite their care, I did not know how to get my life back.

But, luckily, the inspiration and support from a fellow stroke survivor helped motivate me. His story about his recovery and even being able to dance again got me working on my rehabilitation and interested in helping others on their recovery as well. “You will dance again..” rang in my ears! It was a challenge I thought impossible.

Encouragement, support from my peers…and my motto…“Never Give Up!”

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Len Boser

A key to the quality of recovery is support from fellow stroke survivors and their
caregivers…the people who have first-hand experience. This peer support was instrumental for me. And that is what March of Dimes Canada’s Stroke Recovery Canada® is all about…reaching out to other stroke survivors and giving them understanding, knowledge and hope.

 

For more information on Stroke Recovery Canada®, please visit: http://bit.ly/ModcSRC

 

LIFE Toronto reviews Apple Store’s iPad Workshop

Written by Amy Kostash

Last Friday, the LIFE Toronto group did a social outing to the Apple Store at the Eaton Centre for an iPad workshop. The experience was fantastic! The employees of the Apple Store were wonderful, they clapped us into the store, ensured there were no obstacles in our way, and really made an effort to get to know each and every person attending.

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Amy and Tyler snapping a pic on the iPad

Prior to the workshop, the Apple Store staff checked in with us to find out what it was we were interested in learning. They catered the workshop entirely to our needs and interests! First, we learned about some accessibility features the iPad has, and everyone got to try it on their own. There were enough staff to assist if anyone needed it. Next, we learned about the different ways to take photos and videos like square, panoramas, and time-lapse videos. Sraddha’s personal favourite was when we learned about airdrop! It was so easy to send photos to the other iPads in the workshop, and it was especially fun to see the expressions on their faces when they received our silly photos. Tyler was particularly interested in learning how to print photos from his iPad at home. The staff were eager to explain and demonstrate airprint for him.

 

Jess was very impressed with the Apple Store employees and appreciated how they spoke directly to her, rather than only speaking with the LIFE Toronto staff. She says, “they were very accommodating of our needs.” After the workshop, Jess wanted to make a purchase and more than one of the Apple employees was eager to help her out, even bringing the items right to her so she didn’t need to fight the crowds!

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Danielle and Jess taking a selfie with the iPad!

All in all, out LIFE Toronto group left the Apple Store with a collection of funny photos, new information regarding accessibility features of the iPad, and Apple USB bracelets!

The LIFE Toronto group encourages everyone to check out workshops at the Apple Store! They have a variety of topics, and they are very helpful and accommodating. The LIFE Toronto group is looking forward to going back for an iMovie workshop when they reach the editing stage of a project they’ve been working on.

LIFE weighs in on recent TTC “Stay Focused. Stay Safe.” awareness campaign

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written by Amy Kostash and Danielle Hepburn

One component of our Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (LIFE) Toronto program is transit training. This allows participants to get one-on-one assistance using the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to get to a destination of their choice; usually back home from our national office. During our transit training sessions, we cover everything there is to know about the TTC from safe use procedures to its accessibility and planning our route. For the individuals in the LIFE Toronto program, this transit training provides an alternative to Wheel Trans should they feel comfortable enough taking it on their own.

Recently, the TTC published a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of focus in order to stay safe. These posters can be seen on subway platforms, subway trains, and buses. We asked the participants of our LIFE Toronto program their thoughts on these new posters.

Stay Focused Graphics

The first poster shows a woman in a wheelchair using the deployed ramp of a bus while a pedestrian is running past, unaware of the ramp. The message this poster aims to spread is that pedestrians need to be more aware of ramps and the potential they could be deployed at any time, and may cause a tripping hazard. The second poster shows a gentleman in a power wheelchair waiting for the bus while pedestrians hurry past him. The message this poster aims to send is that persons with a disability and/or mobility devices are to be the first to board the bus and the last to disembark.

First, we asked the LIFE Toronto group if any of them had experienced being cut off by pedestrians while waiting for, or getting on their Wheel Trans rides. 4 of the 5 participants say they have been cut off while the ramp of their Wheel Trans ride was deployed. Tyler says “these signs are necessary because people cut us off and don’t know that I have the right of way when getting on a bus.” Jess added that “these posters may not work, the buses already beep and drivers will yell at people, so I’m not sure that a visual poster will necessarily help.”

Another concern that the group had was the use of the selected images on the posters. Both depict the wrong way of doing things! Instead, our group thinks it would be much more effective if the posters showed pedestrians correctly using the TTC and allowing persons with disabilities the right of way. If people don’t take the time to read the message on the poster, there is a chance they could just end up adopting the wrong behaviour after all.

These posters allowed for some interesting discussion in our LIFE Toronto workshops. The group came to the conclusion that it is too early to tell if these ads are working. It will be interesting to see if the attitudes of people change based on the presence of these posters. Also, the group thought it might be interesting to create a poster or image with the same message but from the perspective of an individual in a wheelchair that shows the implications of pedestrians failing to give them the right of way.

Angie Burke’s Story – Stroke Survivor & Peers Fostering Hope Stroke Mentor

Written by Angie Burke.
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Angie Burke, Stroke Survivor & Peers Fostering Hope Stroke Mentor

I was 46years old and it was a normal evening until my husband heard a crash and found me having a seizure.  I was completely flaccid on the left side and my face was drooping.  I was trying to speak but could not. He called 911 as he recognized the symptoms and knew that I was having a stroke.

The next 2 weeks were terrifying. I didn’t know if I was going to live or die.

If I did survive I didn’t know what my life was going to be like? Would I walk again?  Would I talk clearly again?  Would I be able to see clearly again? Dress myself? Feed myself? Would I be able to take care of myself and my family again??

Initially I was unable to walk. I had no use of my left side, I could see nothing on my left side, could not recognize people’s faces – I only knew my husband because of the shirt he was wearing, I could not tell time, I could not write, and the list goes on…

While in the hospital, I had help getting washed, help getting dressed, my meals were brought to me.  This was not the case at home.  The first time that I attempted to dress myself, it took me over an hour.  I remember bursting into tears.  Here I was a grown woman and I couldn’t even put on a shirt myself.  I either had it on backwards or inside out.  The same struggle happened when I tried to cook for the first time.  I couldn’t read, so how was I supposed to follow a recipe? I was extremely weak and still couldn’t see objects on my left side.  I fell and crashed into things constantly.  To make matters worse, I was on blood thinners.  I was always covered in bruises.  Everything was a struggle; from the time I got out of bed until the time I crawled back in again.  I often became so frustrated that I would just scream.  I felt defeated as I needed help with everything.  I felt like I was a burden to my family and completely worthless.  I was terrified that this was what my life was going to be like from now on.

I now have a seizure disorder. I take medication to control them.

I ended up suffering through a depression –oh the depths. The darkness. The hopelessness. The feeling of worthlessness. The loneliness. The despair. The loss of my will to keep fighting. The grief for all that I lost- my career and income, many friends, my freedom (as my driver’s license was suspended), my confidence, my entire identity, my self-worth. The horrible judgments that I passed on myself were devastating. After several months I finally started receiving the treatment, both chemical and therapeutic that helped me to start climbing out of that dark hole and gave me back my will to fight.

Fear in the beginning was crippling. It was my constant companion.  I have learned to overcome fear and have come to the point now, where I can say that I refuse to live in fear. I live in gratitude for the day, today.

I have ongoing memory issues, specifically short-term, but have developed strategies to cope with it.

I faced and overcame all of it; I now work with stroke patients as a Stroke Mentor in the Peers Fostering Hope Program; it is such a wonderful feeling to use my journey to help other stroke survivors that are just beginning their own journey.

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I am an artist; I walk with friends; I walk my dog; I ride my bicycle; I lift weights; When I first started, over a year ago, I could only complete my arm lifts with 2.5 pounds. I was so weak and had lost so much weight.  I gradually increased the amount that I was lifting, and currently I am up to 25 pounds, even with my affected arm.  I run 5k on my treadmill every 3rd day and hope to run a 5k this coming summer, I lawn bowl. I smile and laugh.  I tell jokes.  I enjoy my life.   I am a wife; I am a mother; I am a friend. I am an award winner.  I recently won the award for Extraordinary Women of Kawartha Lakes in the determination category.  Most importantly, I take care of myself and my family!! I have faced the nightmare and I have wakened stronger and more whole than I could ever have imagined.

My message to everyone: Life will throw you curve balls, Life will knock you down, but you’ve got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and overcome.  I’m NOT telling you it’s going to be easy, but I AM telling you it’s going to be worth it.

Angie also took up drawing after her stroke after a relative suggested she try it. She has used some inspirational quotes as part of her subject. Click on each thumbnail to increase image sizes.

 

For more information on the Peers Fostering Hope program and other support groups, please visit: http://bit.ly/MODCSRS

 

To volunteer with peer visits, please call the Stroke Recovery Warmline® at 1-888-540-6666.