Janelle Armstrong - My name is Janelle Armstrong and I am a 20 year old university student, born and raised in Nanaimo. I was born with Cerebral Palsy which has made me reliant on a power chair to get around. I was asked if I would like to become a member of the Access Nanaimo Committee by another committee member and I have been involved for just over a year now. It has been a pleasure so far. One of the things I enjoy most about being a member is having the opportunity to hear other people’s thoughts and feelings about accessibility situations they have experienced and it is truly fascinating. Also I have been able to have obstacles that I have faced heard. I feel that it is important for this committee to remain as an ongoing team. Our community is growing nonstop meaning there will always be situations where accessibility issues need to be addressed. My main goal in being a part of this committee is to help raise awareness about accessibility and advocate for others and myself to having a more accessible community.
Kristy Tymos -
Participating in the community and being actively involved in a committee that focuses on making a friendlier and more inclusive Nanaimo is what motivated Kristy Tymos to join Access Nanaimo during the summer of 2008. Kristy hopes to build a more accessible Nanaimo by educating others on the legitimate needs of the local disabled and senior community. Kristy had a spinal cord injury in 2005, and maintains that driving and sleeping are two activities that should remain eternally separate. Since that time, she has returned back to Vancouver Island University where she is completing her Bachelor of Arts.
Angela Plasteras - A member of the Access Nanaimo Committee. I am 21 years old and live in Nanaimo with my parents and twin sister. I grew up in Coquitlam and moved to Nanaimo six years ago. My sister and I have Cerebral Palsy as a result of being born prematurely, and we use power chairs to get around. To assist me with my independence, I have been fortunate enough to have a Service Dog named Yogi for the past seven years. I enjoy Power Soccer, horseback riding, swimming and keeping in contact with my friends over Facebook.
Accessibility affects every part of my life. It’s the difference between a full, active life and one filled with restrictions. Through this committee, I hope to make Nanaimo known for being an accessible destination and place to live.
Heather Small - Heather is a 22 year university student working on a Social Services degree at VIU. She was born and raised in Brantford Ontario and came to the Island in 2009 and became involved with Access Nanaimo in November 2009. She has always had a passion for helping individuals in a variety of situations. Being a part of Access Nanaimo allows her to hear different view points from different experiences and opinions and, as an able-bodied individual, involvement with this group has given her strong respect for individuals who use wheelchairs as mobility devices. It gives her great pride to be able to help improve their quality of life in the community.
Gail Hadfield – Gail has been involved with Access Nanaimo as Program Coordinator since April 2009. She is excited by the progress that this Committee has made since its inception and the great work it has accomplished in making Nanaimo a more accessible and inclusive community.
She completed the Social Services Diploma at VIU in August 2009 and is working towards a Bachelor of Social Work degree via distance education though UVic.
Fred Pattje – Fred is the City of Nanaimo Councillor Liaison on the Access Nanaimo Committee and has held this position since October 2009. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the position as well as a committed attitude towards making positive change for those with disabilities.
Samantha Collette - I was born with Cerebral Palsy which affects my speech and walking. Born in England and moved to Canada with my family when I was 7. I moved to Nanaimo in 2009 from Maple Ridge to attend school at VIU to complete my Child and Youth Care degree. My hope is to make Nanaimo more accessible for everyone who call Nanaimo home and for the people who visit Nanaimo
Hermine Hicks – Hermine was born in 1940 in Jugoslavia and moved to Nanaimo in 1977 as a single mother of five. On her 40th birthday, she opened the first smoke-free long term care facility in Nanaimo (and in BC) and six years later opened the first full-service smoke-free restaurant in Nanaimo. At age 50, she had sold both businesses and spent time traveling Canada and the United States. She then started volunteering and, although she didn’t realize it at the time, discovered that volunteering would become an almost full-time occupation. She was actively involved with eight other organizations before joining Access Nanaimo in 2010. Hermine represents the concerns of older adults on the Access Nanaimo Committee but also has become very conscious about access for all people with disabilities and hopes to affect changes that are needed.
Valerie Robinson - Valerie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1987. Prior to this she was an avid distance runner who worked as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist and Medical Research Technologist. She had also started training for triathlons but was prevented from participating in any due to the progression of the disease. As another result of the worsening condition, Valerie started to use a wheelchair 15 years ago and changed careers to becoming a personal income tax consultant.
She is currently a single mom with two teenage boys, one of whom has been involved with wheelchair basketball for a number of years.
She joined the Committee to give back. Robin Lee Gibson and the Rick Hansen Foundation fundraised to purchase a new wheelchair for her in 2005 and she and her family have been involved in fundraising efforts with this organization ever since. She also values the support of the other Committee members and has formed close personal bonds with them.
She understands the difficulties that those with physical challenges face in trying to find accessible housing in Nanaimo as she lives in a house that is inaccessible due to a steep driveway.