“No act of kindness no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Lauren Foote can’t even remember a time when she wasn’t involved with The Disability Foundation.
After all, along with Sam Sullivan and Rick Hansen, her father Brent was one of the founders of the Disabled Sailing Association, now more aptly known as the Adaptive Sailing Association of BC. But that was waaaaay back in 1982, long before Lauren was even born.
As soon as she was old enough, however, she would be the one accompanying her dad, as he sailed the Martin 16. Her earliest memories are sharing the exhilaration her Dad felt whenever he was out on the water. One could say “re-imagining what is possible” is part of Lauren’s DNA.
As a young adult, Lauren decided to volunteer with the Disability Foundation. She started with BCMOS (British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society) in their kayaking and paddle boarding programs. She admits to being a bit nervous at first, but that didn’t last long. She very quickly discovered that she loved being with folks and chatting as they were together out on the water.
“Frankly,” she admits, “it doesn’t even feel like volunteering. It’s more like socializing with people I really like.”
Her volunteer activities expanded further into hiking with BCMOS participants, and doing some event moderation and fundraising appeals with Connectra. She even gave a lecture about soils to gardeners in the DIGA (Disabled Independent Gardeners Association) program. And in the summer of 2021, Lauren worked at the Disability Foundation, helping Sheryl Newman with community outreach.
“I love everything about the Disability Foundation,” Lauren says. She admires how the Disability Foundation works with people’s desires and needs and makes them happen. She misses everyone that she worked and volunteered with. “Everyone treated me so well; they were so consistently forgiving of my mistakes, so kind and so welcoming.”
Having completed her BSc in Physical Geography at SFU, Lauren is presently attending the University of Toronto, carving her own path to attain a Masters degree in Planning. The focus of her research is to incorporate accessibility needs with natural hazards planning, using that intersection to formulate disaster mitigation strategies for people who are at risk of being left behind.
Even though her program of study is very demanding, Lauren still makes time to volunteer. At U of T, she is an invigilator for students who need some accommodations for writing their exams. She finds this volunteer position very fulfilling as she calms students down and eases their nervousness so that they can do their very best.
She also is a volunteer research affiliate at the Holland Bloorview Research Institute in Toronto, which is recognized in Canada and around the world for its leadership in the field of childhood disability research (https://hollandbloorview.ca). Again, her focus is on researching environmental resiliency for children with disabilities, which benefits the Institute, and segues very nicely with her course of studies.
And, even from afar, Lauren continues to volunteer for the Disability Foundation. She was the moderator for the Accessible Community Forum which happened here in Vancouver on December 3rd. Thank you, Lauren!
Thank you also for your previous volunteerism and community outreach, and your ongoing attention and concern about accessibility for people with disabilities. It is heartwarming and inspiring, and we wish you every success in your Masters program. And when all of that very good work is complete….
We look forward to your return to Vancouver!