Different Abilities, Not Just Disabilities

Monday, March 23, 2020
by Susan Fish

logan with mayor

Logan with Mayor of Kitchener – Logan seen here to the left of Mayor Vrbanovic

It’s very easy to recognize what people with disabilities may not be able to do, but Logan Gillingham wants people to see what they can do. That’s what prompted the local grade 12 student to start the Different Abilities project, a project she brought to GreenHouse’s Youth Innovation program this winter.

Three years ago, Logan was an avid student athlete who found athletics to be a great stress reliever. Then she was injured in a way that meant she couldn’t walk without crutches for three years, until she had surgery this past December. At first, Logan was frustrated by her inabilities. She also faced stigma as people would stare at her and make comments about her. But she also began to make friends with other teens living with disabilities, many of whom are now her best friends, and with whom she began to play sledge hockey. Logan then later took the step of launching a new project that introduces sledge hockey and other para-sports to young people that are able bodied with the goal of ending stigma about disabilities through experience and education. 

Logan and sledge
Logan had been part of other social innovation programs, but when she heard about GreenHouse’s Youth Innovation program she thought it would be a good fit. “It’s a unique situation because all of the other projects are run by non-profit organizations. We are just a bunch of kids running our project.” Three students from the Youth Innovation program have joined with the Different Abilities project, adding new ideas and insights. Logan says it has also been useful to have access to advisors through the program.

In March 2020, they ran an event at Kitchener City Hall where they had over 200 attendees attend.  The event featured the opportunity to learn sledge hockey, educational booths from organizations focused on ability and a panel of para-sport athletes who answered questions about disabilities and para-sports. The event collected donations towards the purchase of a sledge.

Going forward, Logan and her group plan to turn their project into a non-profit organization and to create a platform that helps people run events like the City Hall event, all with the goal of reducing stigma for those living with disabilities in our community.

Learning sledge

Participants at Kitchener City Hall learning sledge hockey