In June 2010, the Tetra Society opened a a 620-square-foot, fully accessible workshop to support its Vancouver chapter.
Based at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (818 West 10th St., Vancouver), the workshop is a resource and collaborative environment for Tetra’s Vancouver-area volunteers - a place for them to work together, meet clients, mentor students and attract volunteers who don’t have a workshop and tools of their own at home.
Along with being a workspace for volunteers, the Vancouver workshop has inspired a new project that is enhancing the independence and abilities of Tetra clients in Vancouver.
Tetra Ability Opportunities
Launched in 2011, the Tetra Ability Opportunities (TAO) project is helping people with significant mobility limitations to make beautiful arts and crafts, handy items like bookshelves and footstools, and fun ones like birdhouses and planters.
The workshop is adapted to be accessible, with its tools, equipment and machinery modified for use by people with mobility and dexterity limitations.
TAO participants discover new skills and hobbies and have fun at the same time.
“We encourage people to do whatever they can physically do,” explains Tetra volunteer George Shipley. “We are there to advise and inspire people – but mainly to guarantee safety."
It costs $10 per session for classes, which are run in four-week blocks, every Thursday between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. with time for a lunch break.
For more information, contact George Shipley by email or at 604-596-9404.
Outcomes: Elaine’s story
Opportunities to create art in a new medium are opening doors for Elaine Lee.
But then, as Elaine is proud to say, she’s spent her whole life overcoming obstacles. “With hands as tiny as a newborn baby, nobody knew what I’d be capable of – not even I knew,” she said.
“Born with a rare condition known as osteogenesis imperfect – known as brittle bones – I was never expected to live past the age of two. I spent my first five years living in the hospital where I baffled doctors, family and friends by overcoming every fathomable challenge.”
An acclaimed artist, inspired and tutored by Canadian painter Ted Harrison, she has been drawing and painting in acrylics for most of her 32 years.
But earlier this year, Lee got to try woodwork through the TAO project.
“Never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would be getting down and dusty on a scroll saw, electric drill, banging nails, creating everything from small wooden animals, designing unique benches and making pretty pictures with wood burning tools,” she said.
Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support of the Tetra workshop and the TAO project:
Help support the dedicated volunteers of Tetra’s Metro Toronto chapter who give their time and expertise to make assistive devices for people with disabilities in the community. Your contribution will pay for the materials needed to design and build a custom assistive device. Donate now.