SCI Alberta's Mission Statement
To empower persons with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities to achieve independence and full community participation.
Where we started
Founded by war veteran John Counsell in 1945, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (now Spinal Cord Injury Canada) began its work from an office in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens and sought to improve the lives of soldiers returning from war with spinal cord injuries. Prior to World War II, most people died shortly after a spinal cord injury, and the survivors had few options beyond a veteran’s hospital or a nursing home, neither of which were properly equipped.
In the decades since Spinal Cord Injury Canada has been a part of substantial change that has helped individuals with spinal cord injury and other disabilities from coast to coast.
With a “peers helping peers” mandate, the organization now has branches in every province. In Alberta, Pierre Gariepy, another survivor of WWII combat and member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, took up the charge. On February 13, 1961, the Canadian Paraplegic Association Alberta was established. In 2011, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, followed by the adoption of our new name—Spinal Cord Injury Alberta—to better reflect the population we serve.
The need for services for those with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities is as important today as it was in 1945. In fact, this need will continue to grow.
SCI Alberta Today
In 2010, there were an estimated 86,000 survivors of SCI in Canada with approximately 4,300 additional new injuries each year. In Alberta, there was an estimated additional 186 new spinal cord injuries in 2010. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of Canadians living with spinal cord injury is expected to climb to 121,000 due to the aging of the Canadian population and more injuries occurring as a result of falls.
SCI Alberta strives to achieve its mission and provide the best service possible through a focus on five core service areas which include:
Client Support and Community Development
SCI Alberta supports its clients through many challenging transitions, including relationships, sexuality, parenting, aging, recreation, education, employment, etc.
SCI Action Strategy
The Strategy began in 2009 with a plan to bring “stakeholders” – people living with SCI and those who provide them with care and services – from around Alberta together to create a plan to address some of the serious issues faced by Albertans with spinal cord injuries.
There were several steps to this approach that involved a lot of consultation and collaboration:
An Evaluation of Supportive Housing Models
In communities across Alberta, the need for a range of accessible housing with supports provided is great and growing. This project aims to provide communities with information and next steps to help initiate local supportive housing projects.
We have examined existing models in Alberta and elsewhere and identified several characteristics of effective, innovative models that could be replicated. The plan is to share this information with communities, along with a template for a business case and guidelines on how to take the business case to the next level.
Our goal is to build capacity for future growth in supportive housing that meets the unique needs of people with SCI and similar physical disabilities so that they can continue to live in the community of their choice.