This year, Ryerson (they/them) is stepping into not one, but two exciting new roles as the 2023 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador and the proud older sibling of their newborn brother, Theo. With big things on the horizon, Ryerson is looking forward to the many memories to be made this year. Passionate about raising up others, Ryerson is excited to use their time as Ambassador to help more kids gain access to the equipment they need to experience freedom and fun in their daily lives. Ryerson brings the same love and compassion to their other new role as the older sibling of Theo. They shared, “he is only 4 months old and I love him so much!”
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Ryerson’s disability affects the left side of their body. “My arm and leg don’t function the same as other people. It makes my muscles super weak and I find my bones are very achy. I find it harder that my leg doesn’t work the same since I cannot move around like the rest of my friends.” To help with movement, Ryerson uses a cane to get around. “It helps me not fall over by walking steady and keeps my foot flat.” Ryerson’s disability can make certain aspects of life a little challenging such as “running, picking up things, balancing, sports, dressing, and doing things independently,” they shared.
Though Ryerson’s disability presents challenges and requires them to do things a little differently, Ryerson is so much more than their disability. “I want people to know about me that my disability is a lot smaller than who I am as a person,” they shared. A creative and kind-hearted 12-year-old, Ryerson has a love of animals, drawing, camp, videogames and much more. A true adventurer, Ryerson has also attended Easter Seals’ fully accessible camp a total of four times, where their favourite activity is archery.
For Ryerson, who has experienced first-hand the impact of equipment and camp, they believe it is crucial that kids with disabilities have access to the resources they need. It is these convictions that Ryerson brings to their role as Ambassador. “I want to be an Ambassador because I want to help kids get the equipment they need by fundraising, so their worlds can be more fun and accessible,” they shared. Ryerson believes that with the right equipment and resources, kids can be free to live their lives on their own terms and do anything they choose to do. “As an Easter Seals Ambassador, I hope to help people get equipment and greater accessibility, so they can have fun, do they activities they want to do, and everything!”
With plans to educate the world on how to better treat and accommodate those with disabilities, 2023 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador Niki (she/her) has the lived experience, intelligence, and heart to make a true impact. Born with Musculocontractural Elhers-Danlos syndrome (mcEDS), Niki describes her disability as a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that affects her mobility and makes her very fragile and prone to injury. “As someone with a disability, I have a lot of lived experience with ableism, accessibility barriers, and accommodations,” shared Niki, who turned 12 this past September.
Currently in Grade 7, Niki is a bright student with a special interest in mathematics. With ambitions of becoming a dermatologist, Niki’s interest in this career path stems from an enthusiasm for skincare and a desire to help others. True to her nature as someone committed to uplifting others, Niki spends her spare time tutoring other students in both Math and English. Outside of academics, Niki loves to stay active by swimming, and also enjoys cooking and baking, reading, watching Netflix series, travelling, and shopping.
The youngest of three, Niki has two older siblings, one of whom, her older sister, Lexi, shares the same rare condition (mcEDS). Niki also has an older brother named Alex who has Batten disease. Though able to walk, Niki uses a walker and wheelchair to prevent injury. In addition to being prone to injury, Niki experiences challenges with mobility, fatigue, balance, and motor skills due to her disability. Through Niki’s experiences with mcEDS, she has developed a unique insight and interest in disability advocacy, which she plans to explore further in her role as Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador. “As a Provincial Ambassador, I will advocate for people with disabilities and educate others on the barriers we face and how non-disabled people and institutions can implement more accessibility and inclusion,” shared Niki. “I want to promote advocacy and inclusion. I hope to use my lived experience to educate others and learn more about other kids’ experiences with their disabilities,” she continued.
This year, Niki is looking forward to meeting new people and cultivating relationships. “I am also hoping to use my platform to improve on my public speaking and learn more about how to represent an organization,” she shared. As a Provincial Ambassador, Niki hopes to spread her message that she is here to be both an ear to those who wish to share their experiences and a voice for those who seek change. “I want people to know that I will try to be the best Ambassador that I can be, and I want people with disabilities (or loved ones of someone who has a disability) to know that they can always count on me to share their experiences. Whatever barriers they are facing, I will try my best to use my platform and resources to help.”