shining a light on the best of the best

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                                     The TeTra sOcIeTy Of nOrTh aMerIca: cusTOM assIsTIVe DeVIces

    shining a light on the
    best of the best
     TOrOnTO chapTers: Clients, volunteers and funders
     came together to celebrate some of the most inventive
     Tetra triumphs.
     The Tetra Society of North America is an independent
     non-profit that provides customized assistive devices
     to people with disabilities. It has 39 Canadian chap-
     ters and two more in the United States, all based on
     volunteerism within the local community.
     The chapters in the Greater Toronto Area—Toronto,
     Hamilton and Peel—came together to celebrate the
     best of the best: five of the most inspiring and unique    serVInG an ace: VOLUNTEER MIKE MCNALLy DEVISED THIS TENNIS BALL LAUNCHER THAT ALLOWS A
     Tetra solutions.                                           TETRA CLIENT TO DEVELOP HIS OVERHAND SERVE.

     The GTA Gizmos award show, held at St. Andrew’s
     Club, Toronto on Feb. 9, brought together more            “ The people present got an idea of the         aWarDs WenT fOr:
     than 100 volunteers, clients and supporters to see          many projects that we do, and how
     examples of the devices that make so much difference                                                     • A tennis ball launcher that enables a
                                                                 each one really means something to the         nationally ranked wheelchair tennis
     to people’s lives, and hear testimony from clients.         individual that receives it. People might      player to develop and practice his
 “Awards were chosen according to merit, fitting a cer-          look at the archive on the website, and        overhand serve
  tain criteria,” explained Tetra Ontario development            have seen pictures, but having a client
  coordinator Glenn Barnes. “ We were looking for the            explaining what the device means to          • A modified crib that allows a new mom
  most ingenious solutions and the projects that made            them makes all the difference.”                in a wheelchair to care for her baby
  the most difference to the clients.                                                                                                cOnTInueD On paGe 3

                                                                Trike modification lets                         ally I had it so he could ride it.”
                                                                boy ride on                                    He turned the frame upside down and

                                                                                                               reassembled the parts onto this (saving
                                                                haLIfaX chapTer: Cutting a few inches
                                                                                                               almost four inches), cut down the forks,
                                                                off a child’s tricycle may not sound like
                                                                                                               headset and handlebars…anywhere he
                                                                a major undertaking, but it has made a
                                                                                                               could make a difference.
                                                                world of difference to a youngster with
                                                                restricted growth.                             But the real neat touch was producing
                                                                                                               a project that looked exactly like a pro-

                                                                Tetra Halifax volunteer Bill Rudolph, of
                                                                                                               duction trike, even down to replacing
                                                                Herring Cove, NS, was asked to under-
                                                                                                               the decals in new positions. The reward,
                                                                take the project to let a five-year-old boy
                                                                                                               of course, came from watching the boy
                                                                ride by himself. The boy is the size of a
                                                                                                               try out the bike.
                                                                one-and-a-half year old, and his parents
                                                                were unable to buy a suitable trike.          “He doesn’t have speech, but I got some
                                                                                                               squeals,” said Rudolph, who has been
                                                               “ They got him a tricycle, but there was a
                                                                                                               volunteering with Tetra for the past
                                                                 five-inch gap between his foot and the
                                                                                                               year since he retired.
                                                                 pedal,” said Rudolph. “I did everything
                                                                 I could to cut that bike down. It was a       It is still a work in progress, as this dedi-
         WheeLs: TETRA VOLUNTEER BILL RUDOLPH GIVES THIS         quarter-inch here, a half-inch there, and     cated volunteer next needs to raise the
                                                                 in places it was a sixteenth, but eventu-     handlebars a little to clear his knees.
      Tetra clients talk about their lives,
      their projects and the barriers they
      have overcome.
                                                                                                          Dan LebLanc: saILInG aheaD
                                                                                                          (VOLUNTEER DAVID GRAHAM, LEFT)
      In TheIr OWn WOrDs

                                                                                                          “It was around one-and-a-half years ago, and I
                                                                                                           was at GF Strong Rehab Centre, sitting in my
                                                                                                           room feeling not too good.”
                                                                                                           Carpenter Dan LeBlanc, aged 28, became
                                                                                                           a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic in a
  .                                                                                                        dirt-bike accident in Yukon two years ago.
                                                                                                           He spent a year in rehab, coming to terms
                                                                                                           with his new life. His love of outdoor leisure
                                                                                                           pursuits seemed a thing of the past, until
                                                       ar T JOnKer
                                                                     : MO DE RN AR
                                                                                                           someone gave him a leaflet about the Dis-
                                                                                     T                     abled Sailing Association of BC (DSA BC).
                                                                                                          “It gave me a little hope for the future,” said
                                                        “I’ve always been a doer, not a watcher.”          LeBlanc. “But I was thinking, first how am I
                                               HIN D
                                VE NO -O NE BE
       an Dr   ea Gr Iff In: LEA                                                                           going to fit into the boat because I have this
                                                         Art Jonker was critically injured in a
                                                         dirt-bike accident on Vancouver Island in         great big ventilator?”
 “ Two years ago I had a very special student.”          September 1977, aged 30. The impact shat-         Recreational therapist, Mary Clark, wanted
                                                         tered the fifth vertebra in his neck, leaving     to make it happen, as LeBlanc used to sail
      Music teacher Andrea Griffin, of Nelson
                                                         him quadriplegic.                                 and surf before his accident. She called
      Elementary School, Burnaby, had a profes-
      sional dilemma. It looked like one of her stu-     After two months’ intensive care, he was          around the world to try to find a boat for her
      dents was going to be separated from his peers     transferred to Vancouver’s GF Strong Rehab        client, before she contacted Tetra—a sister
      during music classes, due to his disability.       Centre. He recalls going in full of hope about    organization of the DSA—and asked for a
                                                         the future, but gradually becoming jaded,         ventilator-holding modification.
      The boy had small hands due to his medical
                                                         until he found a new outlet—art.                 “It took time and a lot of effort from a lot of
      condition, and was fully integrated into
      school life. She introduced the recorder in       “I’m an optimist, but it got to a point when       people, but eventually I was sitting on a sail-
      Grade 4, having the pupils play one-handed,        I could not figure out what to do next,” he       boat with the biggest smile on my face,” said
      using just the top three notes. This boy was       recalls. “It kind of wore me down.”               LeBlanc. “It lifted me up, just to be meeting
      an A student.                                                                                        people and on the water again.”
                                                         One day Jonker attempted using a mouth-
      The following year, when told they would           stick paintbrush in the GF Strong art therapy     Tetra volunteer David Graham, of Burnaby,
      learn the rest of the notes, he asked: What do     room. He was pleased with the result. Paint-      BC, worked on a team effort with LeBlanc’s
      you do if you can’t reach all the notes?           ing was new, something impossible to              recreational and physiotherapists, which
                                                         compare to how it was before the accident.        involved prototypes and mock-ups before
 “ The options were that he didn’t play                                                                    they were satisfied the system was safe to go
   the recorder, or tell him to only play the            But Jonker could only paint a small area          out on the water. LeBlanc sailed five times last
   notes B, A and G and leave out the other              without an assistant to keep moving his           summer, with an instructor, and intends to go
   notes—which weren’t choices—or else find              canvas. He needed an automated way of             solo when DSA sailing resumes in 2007.
   an ingenious way for him to play the instru-          doing this.
   ment,” explained Griffin. “I contacted Tetra,
                                                         Tetra volunteer Gregg Harris created a work-
   and a volunteer came up with this wonderful
                                                         able easel late 2000, which within two years
   recorder which allowed this pupil to partici-
                                                         had developed into the world’s first power
   pate alongside his peers. He needed no help.
                                                         easel. It has helped Jonker to develop his art
   He was fully integrated into the music class.
                                                         to the point that he could make it a com-
   He was so proud of that recorder.”
                                                         mercial venture. There have been other Tetra
      Griffin is left somewhat bemused that              projects since, relating to day-to-day living
      an engineer who had worked on Nasa’s               (a computer stand and a proposed system
      Apollo project—Greg Harris, of Burnaby,            for answering the phone) that allows him
      BC—would come to her school and work for           expression on a daily basis.
      nothing to produce a recorder with keys that                                                           ceLebraTInG Our 20 Th annIVersary
      could be played like a clarinet.

paGe 2 The TeTra sOcIeTy Of nOrTh aMerIca
 PAUL CERMAK              JAy DREW

                                                       DrIVInG fOrce: SAM SULLIVAN, WHO
 celebrating 20 years                                  FOUNDED TETRA IN 1987, HOISTED THE
                                                       OLyMPIC AND PARALyMPIC FLAGS
 of personal solutions to                              AT THE WINTER OLyMPICS STADIUM
                                                       IN TURIN, ITALy USING A WHEELCHAIR
 universal problems                                    FLAG-HOLDER…DESIGNED By TETRA.

 This year sees the 20th anniversary of the         freezer. I was able to pull the freezer door      “I had just retired,” he said. “I was reading the
 formation of the Tetra Society of North            open, but it was on a spring, and it would         APEG BC magazine and doing the things I
 America.                                           spring back.                                       did not have time to do before. There was a
                                                                                                       letter asking for volunteers. I said ‘why not?’
 The society was started in 1987 by current        “I turned around and Paul was nowhere to
 Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, after                be seen. He had gone into my bedroom and           “I called Sam. We went for a coffee. He said
 engineering solutions—provided free of             taken a coat hanger. He unraveled it. I put the    he needed three or so improvements to his
 charge—revolutionized his life. Tetra has          hook to the freezer door and it opened. I’d        personal living arrangements.
 grown over the past 20 years but remains           been trying to do it for months. It was done!
                                                                                                       “ Volunteering with Tetra is very interesting.
 true to his original vision: volunteers provid-
                                                   “I remember once saying to him: ‘Paul, I’m          It helps people to resume the life they had
 ing a personal service.
                                                    going to pay you for that.’ He said: ‘No, Sam,     before their accident, or some disease.”
 Sullivan became quadriplegic after he broke        I found it in my workshop.’
                                                                                                       Jay Drew, of Tsawwassen, BC, began
 his neck in a 1979 skiing accident, at age
                                                   “Jay Drew showed up a little later—who is the       with Tetra in 1991 after reading a call for
 19. He subsequently spent seven years on
                                                    second longest-serving Tetra volunteer.”           volunteers, and has become central to the
 welfare, battling depression, and haunted
                                                                                                       Vancouver chapter. He has more than 200
 by the dilemma: how do you get a job if you        These projects revolutionized his life, Sul-
                                                                                                       inventions to his name.
 can’t feed or dress yourself?                      livan said. They solved everyday issues, such
                                                    as having loops sewn into his socks that           “All my life I felt I was meant to do some-
 He detailed how he would meet up with a
                                                    enabled him to dress himself, or enabling          thing,” said Drew. “It gives me satisfaction
 others at GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancou-
                                                    him to open his apartment door. It soon            and a sense of purpose to do something for
 ver, to “gripe about how hard it was to get
                                                    became apparent that many others needed            someone that they cannot do themselves.
 things done.” They ultimately decided to
                                                    this kind of help, and Tetra was incorporated
 combine their resources to hire an engineer,                                                          “Helping other people gives you a sense of
                                                    in December 1987.
 but found this would cost $700 an hour, far                                                           fulfillment, and that’s what’s makes you
 more than a month’s welfare cheque.                Looking back at the growth of Tetra, Sullivan      happy. People striving to find happiness only
                                                    takes credit for nothing more than bringing        for themselves are doing everything wrong.”
 Sullivan contacted the industry’s regula-
                                                    these compassionate, highly skilled people
 tory group, the Association of Professional                                                           In 1999, he received the R.A. McLachlan Me-
                                                    together with people that have a need.
 Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEG                                                               morial Award, given by APEG BC to recog-
 BC). His plea for volunteers, printed in the      “ We do not provide the energy, we release it,”     nize “an individual who has combined a solid
 group’s newsletter, was met by Vancouver            he added. “ There’s so much energy in a com-      professional career with outstanding service
 engineer Paul Cermak.                               munity, people wanting to do something for        to the community,” and then the CBC
                                                     other people. So much love.”                      Golden Heart Award in 2004. In addition,
“Paul said, ‘Give me an idea of your prob-
                                                                                                       on Jan. 10 this year [2007] Drew received the
 lems’,” recalled Sullivan. “I reached for the      Cermak, who has remained a Tetra volunteer,
                                                                                                       Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award
                                                    recalled his initial contact with Sullivan.
                                                                                                       at a ceremony in Victoria, BC.
 frOM paGe 1

• A saxophone holder that enables a music           a challenge. His reward comes from help-          “It’s a fabulous piece of work, and Mike was
  teacher to conduct classes                        ing people do something they might not             delighted to be at the Gizmos,” said Baliko.
                                                    otherwise do, citing an example of a sip n’        He’s a fabulous man, a great volunteer.”
• A fishing rod caster that allows a quadriple-
  gic to go fishing                                 puff channel changer he designed for a lady        Toronto Tetra coordinator Brian McLean
                                                    in Mississauga, who was paralyzed from             described the “absolutely amazing” event as
• Tetra Toronto’s longest serving volunteer         the neck down by Multiple Sclerosis, so she       “off the scale of fun.”
 The final award went to volunteer Sam              could view television without having to ask
                                                                                                       Gala sponsor was Kangaroo Design. Barnes
 Barnes—“He’s my father,” confided                  for assistance.                                    hopes to maintain the relationship for future
 Glenn, “but it was hard to keep it away from       Tetra Hamilton coordinator Sylvia Baliko           Gizmos events in the area.
 him”—who has completed 25 projects over            was proud to nominate a project completed
 the past six years.                                                                                  • Anyone in Ontario wanting to talk about
                                                    by volunteer Mike McNally, which fires a            Tetra—as a client, health professional or
 Sam Barnes said he volunteered because             tennis ball straight up in the air to allow a       volunteer—should contact Glenn Barnes
 he has “a knack for doing things” and likes        client to develop his overhand serve.               at 905-274-8584.

                                                                                                                  The TeTra sOcIeTy Of nOrTh aMerIca paGe 3
                                                   COORDINATOR’S LIST

                                                   abbotsford/ fraser Valley, bc               Whistler, bc                               Ottawa, On
                                                   Contact head office                         Contact head office                        Contact head office
                                                   1-877-688-8762                              1-877-688-8762                             1-877-688-8762

                                                   armstrong, bc                               calgary, ab                                Toronto peel, On
                                                   Gary Arbuckle                               Kim Beckers                                Matthew Fleet
                                                   250-546-6449                                403-259-5783                               905-814-8789
  Questions, Observations,                         cranbrook/ east Kootenay, bc                edmonton, ab                               Toronto Metro, On
  Want To Know More?                               Contact head office
                                                                                               Jill Meger
                                                                                                                                          Contact head office
                                                   1-877-688-8762                              780-634-8608                               1-877-688-8762

                                                   Kamloops, bc                                Lethbridge, ab                             Toronto north, On
                                                   Jacquie Arnold                              Gary Wheeler                               Brian McLean
                                                   250-828-5085                                403-381-7080                               905-882-5611

                                                   Kelowna, bc                                 Medicine hat, ab                           Trenton, On
                                                   Contact head office                         Maxine Tindall                             Gary Richard
  If you have an idea for a customized assistive                         
  device that could transform some aspect of       1-877-688-8762                              403-488-1322                               1-877-688-8762

  your life, please tell us about it.              nanaimo, bc                                 red Deer, ab                               Windsor, On
                                                   Lisa Schultz                                Contact head office                        Sharon Lumsden
  Every Tetra project is unique: tailor-made to                          
                                                   250-754-3576                                1-877-688-8762                             519-735-8763
  one person’s particular needs and capabili-
                                                   penticton/south Okanagan, bc                regina, sK                                 Montréal, Qc
  ties. They can relate to your home, work-        Contact head office                         Terri Sleeva                               Contact head office
  place, school or leisure location, but note                        
                                                   1-877-688-8762                              1-877-688-8762                             1-877-688-8762
  that we do not fit ramps (any construction
                                                   prince George, bc                           saskatoon, sK                              fredericton, nb
  carpenter can do that) and we do not copy        Simon Rose                                  Contact head office                        Christine Plourde
  devices already on sale.                                             
                                                   250-963-9258                                1-877-688-8762                             506-462-7662
  We first determine if the proposed project       prince rupert, bc                           Winnipeg, Mb                               halifax, ns
  is safe, that no commercial solution is          Contact head office                         Tom Scatliff                               Audrey Peake
  available and you have a volunteer nearby.       1-877-688-8762                                                          902-860-1995
  Next, a volunteer will discuss your ideas and    salt spring Island, bc
                                                                                                                                          st. Johns, nf
  figure out how to make them reality. They        Derek Emmerson                              hamilton, On                               Dr. Leonard Lye
                                                              Sylvia Baliko                    
  will create whatever is required and work        250-537-9351                                                709-753-0733
  with you to make sure it is suitable – mak-                                                  1-877-688-8762
                                                   Trail/castlegar, bc                                                                    Los angeles, ca
  ing minute adjustments to ensure that it is      Jim Rees                                    Kingston, On                               Dr. Sam Landsberger
  safe and does what you originally intended.                              Contact head office              
                                                   250-364-1878                                            1-877-688-8762
  You will not be billed for their time, just      Vancouver, bc                                                                          columbus, Oh
  asked to repay materials and mileage costs.      Pat Tweedie                                 London, On                                 Russ Weir
                                                            Contact head office              
                                                   1-877-688-8762                                          1-877-688-8762
  We frequently work with Occupational                                                         1-877-688-8762
  Therapists, Physiotherapists, Vocational         Vernon, bc
                                                   Ann Cotton                                  north eastern Ontario, On
  Rehabilitation Consultants and other health                       George Ewen
  specialists. Please contact us if you have a                                                 1-877-688-8762
  client that you believe will benefit from a      Victoria, bc
                                                   Marnie Essery
  Tetra project.                         
  Fill out an online Request for Assistance,
  or contact your local Tetra coordinator, or
  reach us at head office by email, phone, fax
  or mail (details on this page).                  Tetra Society of North America
  DO yOu WanT TO be parT Of                        ceLebraTInG Our 20Th annIVersary
  The TeTra prOcess?
  We are always looking for volunteers, both
  for technical and administrative positions.           have an idea for a project?
  Tetra operates via a series of chapters, aided
  by head office in Vancouver, BC. Each works                        Want to know what’s possible?
  within its own community, and comprises
  of volunteers with a wide range of technical                                    Want to overcome a barrier?
  skills (not all engineers!) overseen by a
  coordinator, whose duties include network-
  ing and hosting the regular volunteer                                     h e re’s h ow t o re a ch us ...
  brainstorming meetings.
  You will need to submit references and
  complete a criminal record check if you
  want to volunteer with us.
                                                   T: 604-688-6464
                                                   f: 604-688-6463

paGe 4 The TeTra sOcIeTy Of nOrTh aMerIca          b ox 2 7, p l a z a o f n a t i o n s A - 3 0 4 – 7 70 Pa c i f i c B o u l eva rd S o u t h , Va n co u ve r, B C V6 B 5 E 7