All seven members of the WE Club at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario live with some disability or another — it’s the only WE Club in Canada that can make that claim. And most were in wheelchairs Friday as they gathered outside the hospital, but the slogan on the T-shirts they wore and the causes they were championing said more about them than any mobility issues: “Because we’re not sitting still.”They were there for a couple of reasons. One was to repaint the familiar handicapped logos on three parking spots outside the hospital’s main entrance, replacing the staid wheelchair designs with the Forward Movement icon suggesting motion.“Just because we’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean we’re not active,” said Bryce Desrochers, 16, who’s been a member of the club for five years. “And the logo reflects how we are active members of society as Canadians.”In front of observers including CHEO president and CEO Alex Munter, Own the Podium chair and five-time Paralympian Todd Nicholson and others, Bryce and his club colleagues got busy with paint rollers.
CHEO’s We Club goes to work painting three parking spaces with new dynamic accessibility icons at CHEO on Friday.
Tony Caldwell /
The club raised the $600 needed for paint, stencils, rollers and other supplies by selling handmade rafkis — blue, yellow and white beaded friendship bracelets — over the past year.Inspired by and hoping to honour the club’s initiative, Munter said CHEO was looking into following its lead hospital-wide. “We’re proud of our history of making improvements that are led or inspired by children, youth and families.”The club also raises funds each year by selling baked goods, cold drinks and rafkis at the Great Glebe Garage sale, on tables set up on the lawn of 14-year-old Tait Gofton, a friend of the club’s who has an rare genetic degenerative disorder.They raised $1,343.85 at last weekend’s sale and elected to let Tait, who attended Friday’s event with his mother, Emma Gofton, decide where the money should go. He chose Roger Neilson House.“We’ve been members of the Roger Neilson House for the last seven or eight years,” Emma said. “It’s become our second home and extended family, and we can’t imagine navigating this path without their support. It’s given us a community of friends and professionals that hold us up through the many steps of this situation.Tait, she added, “really wanted to give back to his friends and his community, and, when his friends from the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre asked for his guidance on where to donate their funds from the bake sale, he didn’t hesitate for a moment before saying Roger Neilson House.”Club member Malcolm McLarty, 17, said their philanthropic and painterly efforts wouldn’t just help others; they made them feel good, too.The new parking logo, he said, “gives a new name to the word disability and revolutionizes it.“This and the fundraising are a way to give back to the community. Doing it is rewarding in ways that are unimaginable. You’re doing something that makes you feel good while helping others at the same time. There’s no way to say it. It’s priceless.”email@example.com
One of the dynamic parking icons painted by CHEO’s We Club on Friday.
Bruce Deachman /