Why Oatley Vigmond is a Proud Supporter of SCI Ontario
February 10, 2015 | By: Oatley Vigmond
Every day in Ontario approximately one person sustains a spinal cord injury. As of late 2014, there were 33,000 Ontarians living with spinal cord injuries.
Fortunately, for 70 years, Ontarians have been able to rely on Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCI Ontario) for help. SCI Ontario, formerly known as the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), is an incredibly dynamic organization that offers a comprehensive set of benefits to both persons living with spinal cord injuries and to the province at large. It provides attendant services, employment assistance, peer networking, community support, social events, sporting events, performing arts, training, and workshops. It educates the public on topics ranging from accessibility standards, vehicle modification, adaptive equipment, public transportation, and a wide variety of others.
SCI Ontario is also an active public policy advocate and public educator. It has been a successful champion of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and for improved accessibility in public transit, amongst other successes. SCI Ontario is currently advocating for further positive change, including broadened access to primary care, assistive devices, attendant services and home modification, and reforms to the Ontario Disability Support Program.
SCI Ontario has 17 offices throughout Ontario and is linked to a national umbrella organization, SCI Canada.
SCI Ontario found its footing in Barrie through the concerted efforts of its Regional Services Coordinator, Heather Hollingshead. Prior to opening a regional office in Barrie in 1984, Heather recognized the lack of resources and support north of Toronto for persons suffering from spinal cord injuries. There was a shortage of accessible transit, support, and appropriate care following discharge from hospital. Heather opened the office in her own home. Services were financed initially through the Trillium Fund and private donations.
Like other regional offices in Ontario, the Barrie office faced closure due to a severe recession which hit the province in 1990. Heather rallied the local Barrie community to save the office. She asked this law firm’s founder, Roger Oatley, to help her by joining a board of advisors needed to secure the funding necessary to keep the office open. Roger said yes. The office secured the funding and continues to operate to the present time. Without knowing it, Roger then began this firm’s 25-year tradition of volunteerism with SCI Ontario, both at the local level and provincially. That tradition includes the efforts of Jim Vigmond who was a board member of SCI Ontario from 2003 – 2009, as well as other lawyers and staff members who support SCI Ontario through fundraising, raising awareness, and sitting on the Junior Board of Directors, amongst other things.
Over the years, the Barrie office of SCI Ontario has been instrumental in bringing accessible transit to Grey County and Owen Sound, and attendant care to Simcoe County, to name just some of its accomplishments. Today, the Barrie office hosts its own community events, in addition to those it participates in as a member of SCI Ontario. For many years, the Barrie office hosted an annual Wheelchair Relay Challenge to help raise money and local awareness for spinal cord injury. It also hosts SCI Ontario’s Accessible Vehicle Show in Barrie’s Heritage Park. The show is held in partnership with the Barrie Thunder Classics, and focuses on the technological revolutions in mobility. Heather continues to work for the Barrie office to this day, now over 30 years after its opening.
If you think that you, or someone you know, might benefit from SCI Ontario, or you simply want to learn more about it, please contact us at 1-888-662-2481 and it would be our pleasure to assist you.