The Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia
For Immediate Release:
Cerebral Palsy Association of BC awards honorary lifetime membership to first accessible housing resident of Olympic Village.
February 03, 2011 – The board of directors of the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia have conferred an honorary lifetime membership on the 19-year old who is the first resident of the accessible suites in the Olympic Village.
19 year-old Tessa Schmidt has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility; finding a houset hat she can truly call home is problematic. She moved into her new apartment, an adapted suite at Vancouver’s Olympic Village, on New Year’s Eve.
Whether urban or rural, opulent or humble, old or new, to most adults home is a place of rest from the demands of our busy lives. “But people who have disabilities continue to be marginalized by the lack of accessible housing,” says Cerebral Palsy Association of BC President Craig Langston. “Affordable accessible housing is as important an issue as homelessness.”
Living with a physical disability entails many challenges: matching carefully allotted home care hours to actual need; balancing work, school, and social life around the practicalities of living with disability; juggling learnings against disability pension claw-backs. For Schmidt, fast-tracked her for an adapted suite in December by BC Housing, the challenges continued once she moved into her new home. Within a day of moving in, she had knocked the doors off the bedroom closet with her wheelchair; the kitchen cupboards are too high to be reached from a wheelchair; the laundry room won’t be accessible until the washer and dryer are moved. Schmidt found it necessary to have the bathroom door removed because it opened inward toward the shower; in the event of a fall, she’d have been trapped inside.
Though Miss Schmidt considered her previous home more accessible, the suite at Olympic Village is more convenient to transit, and it’s easier for friends to visit. She hopes to live there for the next four to five years while she completes high school and pursues a post-secondary education in Recreational Therapy at Langara College.
“Vancouver has come a long way in terms of working to provide accessible housing, and we’re grateful for that,” says Mr. Langston. “Now it’s time to take the next logical step. Truly accessible housing requires input from the people who use it; people with disabilities need to be consulted at the design stage. Right now there’s a great opportunity for British Columbia to be a leader in accessible housing: not just in numbers, but in real liveability as well. The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC encourages our province to step into this leadership role.”
* To raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy in the community;
* To assist those living with Cerebral Palsy to reach their maximum potential;
* To work to see those living with Cerebral Palsy realize their place as equals within a diverse society.
For more information:
Contact: Craig Langston, CPABC President, Cell: 604-614-4423