News & Events

Upcoming Events 2022

NOVA SCOTIA's PROVINCIAL ACCESS AWARENESS WEEK

May 29th - June 4th 2022 

Celebrating 35 years in changing the narrative for persons

with disabilities!


1987-2022

FLAG RASINING AND PROCLAMTION CEREMONY-MELL HEBB HOURGLASS ACTION AWARDS

HALIFAX CITY HALL

1841 ARGYLE STREET

B3J 3A5

MONDAY MAY 30, 2022

AT 8:30 am

ACCESS AWARENESS WEEK 2022

The Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS) invites you to join us to proclaim Access Awareness week 2022.  "Reflection & Renewal - 35 years of Access Awareness;  "The promise of progress" in Halifax Hall at Halifax City Hall on Monday May 30th from 8:30am to 11:00 am.

*Interpreters, sighted guides and CART will be available*

Prior to the Proclamation there will a Flag Raising Ceremony held at Parade Square at 8:30 am, hosted by HRM.  Following this ceremony, people are asked to make their way to Halifax Hall for the commencement of the Proclamation Ceremony.

The Highlight of the morning is the presentation of the Mell Hebb Hourglass Action Awards; recognizing Nova Scotians for their contribution to the lives of persons with disabilities in the following categories:

*Exceptional Service Award; to recognize an organization, that has gone beyond their mandate in service to persons with disabilities.  Present to East Coast Credit Union.

*Encore Award; to recognize a person with a disability who has significantly contributed to the community.  Presented to Beth MacLean (Posthumously), Sheila Livingstone (Posthumously), and Joey Delaney.

*Access Awards;  To recognize an individual business, or group without a mandate to serve persons with disabilities that has improve access to facilities, or services in a given area.  While changes made a building specifically to improve accessibility are eligible.

PAANS regrets that improvements to accessibility code cannot be considered for these awards.  Presented to Danny MacGillivray, community Highland Accessible Transportation.

PLEASE RSVP TO CONFIRM YOUR ATTENDANCE WITH NSLEO BY EMAIL:

nselo2018@outlook.com

Despite the relaxing of COVID restrictions, we recognize persons with disabilities and seniors are the most vulnerable and therefore, strongly encourage social distancing and masking when indoors.

The Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (the League, NSLEO) is a catalyst for change and a conduit for information on disability issues.  Working at the municipal, provincial and national and international levels;  interprovincially and across sectors, we are charitable non-profit dedicated to advancing equitable access and inclusion of persons with disabilities.  We provide information and referral services on disability issues, policy reform as we as available programs and services.

Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week is about rising awareness and promoting inclusion.  We believe in taking action to address some of the most pressing issues facing persons with disabilities.  Please join us by supporting our efforts to make a measurable difference in our communities.

The Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS) in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission organizes events to recognize the achievements of people with disabilities in areas of accessibility, transportation, housing, employment, recreation, education and communications.

"Building an accessible Nova Scotia is not just an issue for a single community — this is about redefining how we use architecture and technology in new ways to benefit all our citizens," said Kim Cicchino, PAANS Coordinator.

Promotes the inclusion of all Nova Scotians with disabilities as full citizens within our communities. Through public awareness, community partnerships and education, we aim to foster an environment of equal participation for persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

PAANS would like you to help us recognize people in your community

who have made a contribution to the inclusion of persons with disabilities

in our province by submitting your nominations for the

Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards.

 

The Hourglass Action Awards were launched in 1992 during National

Access Awareness Week. That year, an hourglass symbolized the

spirit of timely action the awards recognize.

 

In 2000, the name of the Award was changed to the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards in honour of Mr. Melbourne Hebb, ('Wheels to Victory, The Mel Hebb Story'), a former awards committee chair. Hebb, who passed away in October 1999, was the personification of dedicated action.

To learn more, see the pages for each year's winners along with write-ups on the recipients...

2021 Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Award Recipients

Access Award 

Recognizes an individual, business or group without a mandate to serve persons with disabilities, that has worked to improve access to facilities and/or services in a given area, that increase opportunities and access for persons with disabilities.

 

Chrysalis House

Ginger McPhee, Executive Director 

Andre McConnell Award 

Recognizes an individual who has gone above and beyond their duties as a public servant and has demonstrated:

  1. A commitment to person centered service - always putting the needs of persons with disabilities first; and 

  2. True dedication to supporting persons with disabilities to fully participate in their communities.

 

Maria Medioli

Executive Director, Disability Support Programs, Dept. of Community Services 

Community Action Award 

Recognizes communities and municipalities dedicated to increasing opportunities for persons with disabilities in their area. This includes recreation opportunities, inclusive education, and employment opportunities or other initiatives that lead to full participation for persons with disabilities.

 

Port Morien Wildlife Association

Jeff McNeil & Stan Peach 

 

Exceptional Service Award 

Recognizes an organization or a member of an organization that has gone beyond their mandate in service to persons with disabilities.

Cynthia Carrol

Executive Director, Autism Nova Scotia 

 

2021 Scholarship Recipients

Jannie Baker – New Waterford

Melody Brittain – Plympton

Braedon Carter – River Tillard

Gabrielle Close – Beaverbank

Tyler Cross – Bridgewater

Alexandra DeCoste – Afton

Lee Gilbert – Central Onslow

Ruby Harrington – Glenholme

Amber Hattie – Plymouth

Kayla MacKinnon – Dartmouth

Karlee Saulnie – Hortonville

Anton Sianchuk – Halifax

Lucas Williams – Shelburne

2020 Scholarship Recipients 

 

Despite the many ongoing challenges of 2020, determination, resiliency and courage persevered as the community navigated a new reality and adjusted accordingly. Our 2020 Scholarship recipients are champions who rose to the occasion to overcome yet another hurdle that would not stand in the way of their future achievements.

 

Pictured below from left to right:

 

Braydon Hennigar; Kathleen Perrin; Rita DeLisle; Sophie LeBlanc; Lauren Boudreau; Eric Lewis; and Julia Bach. Missing from picture Kaleigh Cormier.

 

Congratulations!

PAANS TOOL KITS

 

Want to host your own event?

 

Why not take part in a province-wide campaign to promote awareness on Disability issues?

 

Join us in celebrating and giving recognition to persons with disabilities by hosting your own event during Access Awareness Week at the end of May/beginning of June.

Past Access Awareness events have been diverse and unique, from barbeques to a book launch - We welcome your creativity!

 

To apply for funding for your event just download the toolkit application form - if your application is successful your event will be posted here on our web site!

The Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Award

peggys cove trip2 NSLEO pic.webp

NSLEO Past Events

NSLEO EVENTS IN REVIEW

Visit our Facebook page for current photos and details on events such as Access Awareness Week, Natitional Day of Recognition for Violence Against Women, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Scholarship Awards and much more

 

2016
 

Summer Picnic - Saturday August 6, 2016, 11:00am to 2:00pm, Emera Oval Halifax 2nd annual summer picnic for people with disabilities, friends & family.

2015

65th Annual World Humans Rights Day - Thursday December 10, 2015,  6:30 to 9:00pm, Halifax City Hall, Halifax

Join Mayor Mike Savage, Engage Nova Scotia CEO, Danny Graham, and leaders from the Halifax Human Rights community as we celebrate World Human Rights Day. Entertainment and refreshments will be provided and the event is open to everyone.

Movie Night - 'Lives Worth Living' Documentary - 7:00pm, Alderney Gate Library, Dartmouth

Ever wonder about the start of the Disability Rights Movement in the US and how the Americans with Disabilities Act came in to existence? Come to this movie night showing a documentary showcasing this, followed by a discussion on the film and how we can make that happen here! To learn more about the film that will be shown go to: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/lives-worth-living/ 

35th Anniversary Seminar Series, 'People with Disabilities & Democratic Participation, Key to a Better Nova Scotia', October 15, 2015, 7:00pm, Alderney Gate Library, Dartmouth

Join us every second Thursday starting on October 15th for the NS LEO 35th Anniversary Seminar Series!
 

Summer Picnic - Saturday August 15, 2015, 1:00pm to 3:00pm, Emera Oval in Halifax

Members of the disability community their families and friends invite you to join us for an afternoon of fun at the Oval. Bring a picnic lunch; we'll have adapted sporting equipment and games for you to try. — ASL interpreters will be on hand.

2013

Public Disabilities Issues Forum - Saturday March 16, 2013, 11:00am to 3:00pm, Nova Scotia Museum of Industry, Stellarton

NSLEO is coming to listen to you. We want to hear and talk about your disability related concerns and the issues you experience out in the rural areas of Nova Scotia. 

Come prepared to tell us your stories with your issues and concerns and what you believe might be the best solutions


 

Partnership for Awareness Nova Scotia PAANS

Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia, PAANS, through its annual Access Awareness Week events and initiatives, works to promote the inclusion of all Nova Scotians with disabilities as full citizens within our communities.

 

Through public awareness, community partnerships and education, we foster an environment of equal participation. Our belief is that accessible communities contain more than ramps and elevators. Truly accessible communities value people, recognize ability, and celebrate diversity. We hope to inspire all Nova Scotian communities to enrich their lives by becoming truly inclusive places to live, learn, and work.

PAANS Events - 2017

  1. Flag Raising Ceremony - May 29th Parade Square, Halifax

  2. Proclamation Cermeony/Mel Hebb Awards – May 29th Province House, Halifax

  3. Scholarship Luncheon – June 2nd – Halifax Marriott Harbourfront

  4. White Cane and Dog Guide Walk- Canadian Council of the Blind

  5. Access Sketching Trip – Team Possibles/Halifax NS Down Syndrome

  6. Flag Raising Ceremony – Town of Antigonish

  7. Flag Raising Ceremony – County of Antigonish

  8. Landmark East Foundation 8Th Annual Golf Classic

  9. Town Crier – Will Brewer – Scholarship Luncheon

  10. Cape Breton Island Employment- Scholarship Presentations/Open House

  11. SCRI Society: The Club – Accessible Zumba event

  12. Defeat Depression – Walk-a –Thon

NEWS RELEASE -  - Access Awareness Week 2016 - May 29 to June 4

Nova Scotia’s 17th Access Awareness Week was celebrated May 29 to June 4, 2016 and the theme was Universal Design: No One’s Left Out.

The Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS) in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission organizes events to recognize the achievements of people with disabilities in areas of accessibility, transportation, housing, employment, recreation, education and communications.

"Building an accessible Nova Scotia is not just an issue for a single community — this is about redefining how we use architecture and technology in new ways to benefit all our citizens," said Kim Cicchino, PAANS Coordinator.

 

A proclamation was read at Province House to begin the celebrations on Monday, May 30. Following this, the Mel Hebb Action Awards was presented to Nova Scotians from around the province who are making a meaningful contribution to the lives of people with disabilities.

 

A scholarship luncheon was held on Friday, June 3 at the World Trade and Convention Centre. Scholarships were awarded to 17 students from across the province who are pursuing their post-secondary education or training.

Other events planned this week include a Team Possibles’ Art Collective, a Defeat Depression Walk-a-Thon, a Technology on a Budget workshop from the Canadian Council for the Blind, an accessible choir concert given by the Club Inclusion and an open house by the Cape Breton Employability Associations.

 

PAANS promotes the inclusion of all Nova Scotians with disabilities as full citizens within our communities. Through public awareness, community partnerships and education, we aim to foster an environment of equal participation for persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

AAW 2012 PAANS.webp
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Sport Events

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Girls Hockey Team

Past Winners

Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia, PAANS, through its annual Access Awareness Week events and initiatives, works to promote the inclusion of all Nova Scotians with disabilities as full citizens within our communities.

 

Through public awareness, community partnerships and education, we foster an environment of equal participation. Our belief is that accessible communities contain more than ramps and elevators. Truly accessible communities value people, recognize ability, and celebrate diversity. We hope to inspire all Nova Scotian communities to enrich their lives by becoming truly inclusive places to live, learn, and work.

Mel Hebb Hourglass Award Winners 2016

 

Encore Award - Scott Jones, Chase Valiant

Access Award - The Prince George Hotel

Exceptional Service Award - Louise Gillis

Andre McConnell Award - Anne Black

​About our 2016 winners...

Encore Award 2016:

Scott Jones

Scott Jones has made exceptional contributions to our community by encouraging people to overcome their fears, to not be afraid to overcome barriers, and to pursue full participation in the face of adversity. Scott has exhibited tremendous leadership by using his voice and story to advocate for inclusion, diversity, and acceptance to our differences. Scott was the victim of a hate crime in 2013, a crime which left him paralyzed. Scott has used his experience to create a movement called Don’t Be Afraid, and to lend his time and talent to other like-minded organizations such as Easter Seals Nova Scotia and Phoneix Yourth programs. Scott is an inspiration to all of us, and notably to youth, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

Chase Valiant

This September Chase Valiant will be attending his final year in NSCCs Social Services program. Volunteering in his community for different organizations has been something he has done throughout his entire life starting with volunteering in a nursing home at age 12. Since his attendance at NSCC, chase has thrived in not only the classroom but also outside the classroom in volunteering for his community. The biggest tool chase has thrived on is turning his struggles into action and advocacy. Struggling with ADHD entering post secondary chase not only got on his feet with the help of ADHD coach Keith Gelhorn but also begun advocating along side him. Chase’s interview last year on CTV News on adult ADHD and his success after meeting Keith was only the start of his journey towards the advocacy of others. Chase’s more recent activities’ include building and leading a team of social services students and local musicians to Guatemala to work with children in orphanages. Film crew and director Wanda Taylor will be accompanying them to include his team as part of their documentary for the Red Carpet Film Festival.

 

Chase has shown great initiative in his first years of college not only learning to advocate for him but also the diversity of others. Through his first years in college he has walked many paths touching many organizations and people along his way. He is a natural born leader who views success as meaningless without bringing the positive change of others along with him. Chase hopes to one day become an ADHD coach with Keith while pursuing his passion and career of psychology in university. Chase has shown initiative and creativity in becoming a leader. He is a published writer in Teens Now Talk and Adotpion today. In these articles he reflects his life, experiences and how his diversity has help build him. In this way Chase has proven how his disability has become his ability.

Access Award 2016:

The Prince George Hotel

Scott Travis, General Manager will receive the award on behalf of The Prince George Hotel

This nomination was given by a wheelchair user that travels to Halifax often.

'The Prince George is the only hotel within the Halifax area where I have found that I can stay safely and independently. This is in large part due to the staff who continuously go above and beyond to make me feel welcome and safe. I know if I run into any problems or have any accommodation needs they are more than willing to do whatever they can. They are truly knowledgeable about disabilities and always willing to learn in the areas that are unknown to them. When I had a group staying at the hotel for an event, their comment was it was like they were coming home and were instantly accepted despite their varying disabilities.'

Exceptional Service Award 2016:

 

Louise Gillis

Louise has spoken about her life experiences regarding having lived with more that one disability since the age of two. As a polio survivor, she was told that she could not attend nursing school or go to university; she defied this advice and became a nurse, graduating in the top ten in the province, working for 25 years in that career.  She attended university while working full time and graduated on the Deans’ list only to lose her career as well as her independence six months later.  She then found herself having to start over in a volunteer position

Louise joined the Canadian Council of the Blind in 1997 and organized many activities for other CCB members, led workshops, mentorship groups, served at grassroots, local, provincial and national board levels, as well as on an international level with the World Blind Union (WBU) and served on national advocacy committees such as Marine Atlantic Accessibility Advisory Committee, Consumer Access Group (CAG), Best Medicine Coalition (BMO), Society for Accessible Transportation for Cape Breton, Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Canadian Transport Agency (CTA), Canadian Ophthalmology Association (COA) and attended annual meetings, Seeing Beyond Horizons conference, among others.

She was instrumental in working with the provincial government to get approval in Nova Scotia for treatment for wet AMD and in establishing more clinics throughout the province to provide improved eye care.

She also worked with CNIB nationally as well as other experts to develop an education pamphlet for persons with diabetes living with vision loss. Louise assisted with the development of the Patient Charter for Persons with Vision Loss and developed, though CCB, programs for persons with vision loss such as exercise, curling, Getting Together with Technology (GTT) and the Eye Van.  She recently returned from a ten day stay in China with several eye care experts to advise people working at the Norman Bethune International Peace Hospital re the delivery of mobile eye care to outlying villages and continuing that care on an ongoing basis. 

 

The work which Louise has done, and continues to do, impacts all those living with vision loss locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

Andre McConnell Award:

Anne Black

 

Anne Black has been employed in the field of community services since 1979. During this time she has worked in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and in Nova Scotia, with both municipal and provincial governments. Her experience in the field of disability support spans more than 28 years, with her first job in this province, with Dartmouth City Social Services. Anne worked for many years as a front line Care Coordinator, where she was highly regarded by individuals with disabilities, their family members and community based disability organizations. Anne loved this work, most especially the interaction her clients, who have left her with many fond and happy memories.

Anne was recruited to work with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services Head Office during the Community Supports for Adults Renewal Project in 2004. She has remained with the head office program team since this time. Anne currently works as a Program Coordinator for the Disability Support Program, where she has been instrumental in developing both the Independent Living Support and Alternative Family Support programs. These are both very successful and well utilized programs in our province. She is a "roll up the sleeves" person with a "can do attitude". Always with a smile on her face, and a commitment and self-described stubbornness in making sure that the "right thing" is achieved on behalf of persons with disabilities.

Anne supports every piece of work that happens in the Disability Support Program. Her combination of analytical skills and strategic thinking make her a huge asset to the Department of Community Services and the people served through the Disability Support Program.

Outside of work, Anne lives with her husband Grant in Fall River where she spends much of her spare time in her gardens. Anne and Grant are the parents of two wonderful daughters, Sarah and Amy and are the proud grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters Greta and Bridget.

We are so pleased that Anne is being recognized with the Andre McConnell Award, for her exemplary work. A sincere thank you Anne, for your many years of dedicated support and service to persons with disabilities in our province.

Encore Award - Will Brewer, Victoria Levack

Access Award - Jim Smithson, Jen Briand

Exeptional Service Award - Amanda McCulloch, Simon McFayden

Andre McConnell Award - Damion Stapledon

About our 2015 winners...

Encore Award 2015:

Will Brewer

Will is an exceptional person who makes lasting connections with and impressions on everyone he meets. He has advocated for Team Possibles, Halifax NS Down Syndrome Society HNSDSS, and volunteer Board member of Voices at the Table, a voice for Self-Advocates for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, on behalf of persons with Down Syndrome at and through multiple events, conferences and through his daily interactions. Will is both a person with a disability who has significantly contributed to his community and is also an advocate and supporter of people with Down Syndrome and organizations that support people with Down Syndrome.

 

Will’s services to his community include duties as host and MC at public events, including Walk with Friends Event, advocate, liaison between community groups, board member and representative at provincial and national DS organizations, correspondence and communications and raising public awareness through many media interviews. Will is also an artist, photographer, active Team Possibles and Team City Art Hive leader, actor (starring as Corker in Wendy Lill’s 2012 production by the same name), special Olympics athlete, member of Friday Night Socials and The Club. Will has also forged ties for Team Possibles and the Down Syndrome Community with Saint Mary’s University Enactus Business Students, and faculty, and is completing a job skills program, excited to enhance his business skills.

 

Will is forever focused on the rights of persons with DS and disabilities to be seen as people first and to celebrate their unique abilities. He demonstrates great pride and love for his community through all he does. But most importantly William MacPherson Brewer is an amazing, all rounded awesome human being with endless love, kindness, patience and compassion for everyone he meets.

Vicky Levack

Vicky grew up in Berwick with her Dad Mark, her Stepmom Joan and her younger sister Erica. Vicky was taught from a very young age that she was going to have to learn to advocate for herself and what her rights were when it came to her disability. She currently lives in Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax and is now using the knowledge she gained to help others. She cofounded an advocacy group called independence Now Nova Scotia. The objective of this group is to work with government to help them provide more age-appropriate, long-term care facilities for young adults. Vicky is also a published romance author, and social butterfly.

In terms of school, VICKY is pursuing a degree in women's studies, and hopes to become a counselor for abuse victims in women's shelters.

Access Award 2015:

 

Jim Smithson

Jim Smithson, general manager of Cineplex Cinemas Dartmouth Crossing, formed a partnership with Affirmative Ventures in the summer of 2014 in order to explore how his business could become more inclusive. He rejects oppressive training methods that do not allow for accommodations and encourages new ways of viewing productivity. This outlook supports the notion that employers must draw on the strength of their employees, of varying abilities, in order to celebrate individual diversity.

Mr. Smithson leads his team, comprised of over 65 employees, with respect, support and empowerment. It is because of him that Cineplex Cinemas Dartmouth Crossing has started challenging traditional policies, procedures and training programs. By continuing to create more employment opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities he has entered a larger discourse centered on equal opportunity.

 

Jen Briand

Jen has worked avidly to create opportunities for young people to have fulfilling experiences in dance for over eight years.  She set up the Inclusive Movement courses at Halifax Dance, ran the Dance Club at Halifax Dance in partnership with SCRI Society "The Club" for over two years and has volunteered and run many dance programs with young people who have different abilities at Halifax Dance and The Club.  She has helped young people access mainstream programming and provided the support that people need to access high quality dance programming. Jen's work has inspired so many young people with diverse abilities to express themselves through the arts.

Exceptional Service Award 2015:

Amanda McCulloch

As a volunteer coach for both recreational and competitive Boccia in Halifax Metro, Amanda has taken the sport to new levels of achievement and consistently strives for the active involvement of youth with disabilities in the sport. Her interaction with players has always been done with the utmost level of caring, compassion and professionalism, and her dedication to providing this recreational activity to youth with disabilities has been without fail. Amanda is also an active Committee Member of the Boccia Association of Nova Scotia and working with other members of the Committee, has actively participated in Boccia demonstrations in other areas of the Province to help the sport.

Simon McFadyen

Simon, better known as DJ Ace, is a youth community member that continues to go above and beyond his mandated duties in order to celebrate and encourage youth with disabilities.

Simon volunteered his musical services for the Art of Disability festival in July of 2014 but quickly became involved in all aspects of the event planning. His participation and ideas centered on how the Art of Disability festival could improve by way of increasing the participation of youth with disabilities. Simon brought to the team his positive attitude, incredible work ethic and infinite suggestions. His vast connections in the Halifax non-profit and musical community also helped promote the event by reaching a wider audience. Simon’s role as a volunteer was instrumental to the success of this event.

Simon has a long history of volunteering in his community, from the Canada Games, Tall Ships and the Blue Nose marathon to community events such as the Northern Lights Lantern Festival in the North End, Dartmouth’s Pirate Days and Halifax’s Parade of Lights.

Over the past two years, Simon has dedicated much of his time to developing his DJing skills, and continues to hone his craft with the help of his mentor, DJ Ronnie Medley. Simon’s increasing popularity as a DJ, particularly within the disability community, is a testament to his hard work and passion for DJing. Simon continues to volunteer at the The Club (SCRI Society) where he got his start as a DJ and also works part-time at the Halifax Association for Community Living.

Andre McConnell Award 2015:

 

Damion Stapledon

In 2004, Damion began his career with the Halifax Regional Municipality. During his time at HRM Damion created the Accessibility Committee for the Recreation Department, developed the Playbook, A Guide to Sport and Recreation Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in Nova Scotia, sits as a staff member on the Accessibility Advisory Committee for HRM and over the past 4 years has developed a new policy and framework for HRM Recreation: A policy and framework that is based on feedback from the disability community, is based on Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with disabilities and from  best practices across Canada. Damion is currently the chair of the Recreation for ALL foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to receive, manage, distribute, and administer a fund to charitable organizations and municipalities that are pursuing programs, initiatives, capacity building and research designed to reduce and eliminating barriers to participation in recreational opportunities caused by poverty, distance, disability, the built environment and/or culture. Damion’s drive to see a more accessible Nova Scotia was heightened in 2007, when his nephew (who will be 8 on June 16) was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  Damion, his wife Carolyn and their two children, Eden and Bodhi spend a lot of time with Van and his family. They get to see firsthand why fully participating in ones’ community is so important.