Celebrated as the “Man In Motion”, Rick Hansen is a Canadian icon who has dedicated his life to removing barriers for people living with disabilities. In recognition of his work, the University of Lethbridge gave Rick an honorary Doctor Laws degree during the 2018 Spring Convocation ceremonies.
As part of the celebrations, Rick discussed how far the cause has come since the late 80s when he undertook his epic two-year circumnavigation around the world in his wheelchair fueled by two big dreams: to prove the potential of people with disabilities and to make communities more accessible and inclusive. In an article by LethbridgeNews Now, Rick said:
“When I started my Man in Motion tour in the ’80s, in many ways the issue of disability was largely thought of as a charity or a lot of attitudes steeped in old history… it was something to be pitied, not a lot of opportunity,” said [Rick]. “So, it was a new awakening and since then attitudes have shifted significantly towards one of inclusion and equality, and that people with disabilities have a right to be fully included and participate in our society.
“Over 98-per cent of Canadians believe that this is true, and that’s a really powerful shift in the attitudes of Canadians,” he added. “Now we’re moving to the economic and cultural imperative of including people with disabilities. It’s not just about human rights, our country’s economic productivity and our cultural capacity depends on people with disabilities being able to make their meaningful contribution when barriers are removed.”
As Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, Rick told media that he hopes Canada will create a system to score a city’s accessibility and become the nation that inspires a global standard for accessibility.
“The world is so much smaller and more connected now, and the notion of a movement, globally, continuing to accelerate progress, to make the world accessible and inclusive for spinal cord injury and people with disabilities is real, it’s not just a pipe dream,” Hansen said. “In many ways, this moment is a celebration of our progress as much as it is a rally cry to get there faster… I can’t be more inspired to be here.”
Read the whole article here.