by Stacy Dunn
Spinal Cord Injury PEI (SCI PEI) is a non-profit organization that offers programs and services to people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities. The aim is to help achieve independence, self-reliance, and to promote full community awareness and participation.
A core staff of three provides peer support, community advocacy, and resources to its members and the community. Glen Flood is the organization’s new Executive Director. He brings two decades of non-profit management experience to his role.
“I engage with SCI PEI’s Board of Directors and support their initiatives,” he says. “My role also includes grant writing, fund-raising, and advocating for the organization’s members on a variety of issues. For instance, I am talking with the City of Charlottetown, taxi companies and other organizations to get bylaws passed that ensure there are more accessible taxis on the road.
“We offer peer support and are working on creating videos on accessible homes and vehicles. Our Administrative Assistant Cassie McPhee will be playing an important role in that kind of work. We also keep in contact with the provincial government to talk about resources SCI PEI can tap into for our clients to help fund controls for a vehicle, or the vehicle itself.”
Their Needs Network is a hub for disability-related needs: accessible housing, assistive devices, and various aids for daily living. People are encouraged to call the SCI PEI office if they need help in acquiring necessities.
Another resource available provides a no-cost accessibility audit to businesses and events. Community Outreach Coordinator Alan Stanley visits businesses and event venues to see if they comply with current disabled access regulations and best practice standards.
“I tell them what works and what doesn’t work, and help them draw up an accessibility plan,” says Alan. “Some businesses have called us before they started to build, as it saves them money upfront. It’s so much easier for everyone. We feel included, and they feel inclusive. It changes their attitudes a little bit.”
Advice for employers
Alan says all employers should have a mobility inclusion plan. “Before someone with a spinal cord injury shows up, they should have a plan in place to ensure that their business has ramps, accessible doors and washrooms, and a comfortable work area. Also, make sure your company’s team-building or social events are held in accessible places.”
Help for job seekers
SCI PEI partners with ResourceAbilities (formerly PEI Council of People with Disabilities) and other organizations to help clients who may be looking for a job.
“Unemployment among people with disabilities is high, thus poverty is high for this group,” Alan says. “I tell them to look at what they are able to do, and what fits within their skillset. Be realistic – a line cook may not be able to work in a kitchen anymore, but they may find a job that uses their skills in a different way.”
Another major role for Glen is building partnerships within the community. “Our new recreation program Walk & Roll relies on partnerships with UPEI, Parasport and Recreation PEI, and others to include as many people with disabilities as we can to participate in activities at the walking track at UPEI. Alan was key in getting that program started.”
“We have volunteering opportunities on committees such as peer support, education, and fund-raising, and we need general volunteer help with social events,” says Glen. “High school students who volunteer with us are eligible for the Community Service Bursary that goes towards their tuition in university or college.”