Hansen officially launched the anniversary in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Aug. 24, 10 years from the date that he began the last segment of his epic journey around the world and across Canada. Ten months of commemorative events in each province will culminate in Vancouver on May 22.
"My life has been a series of new goals, journeys and horizons and this is just another stage in that process," said Hansen. "The goal of the anniversary is to remind people what the tour was about, tell what has been accomplished over the past 10 years and present our future vision."
Hansen came to national and international attention in 1985 when he pushed his wheelchair 40,000 km for two years and two months through 34 countries. The effort raised $24 million for the Man in Motion Legacy Trust Fund in support of spinal cord research, rehabilitation, wheelchair sports and awareness. Today, the foundation has awarded over $15 million to projects in these fields.
Hansen plans to use the 10th anniversary of his trek to introduce a series of new initiatives and programs that will reinforce the goals of the original tour and help establish new goals. For example, Hansen is currently working with premiers across the country to establish a provincially based fund that would see a portion of relevant traffic offence fines allocated to support spinal cord and head injury research, and rehabilitation and accident prevention programs.
"It's about time people take personal responsibility for their actions whether that's speeding, drinking and driving, or not stopping for a traffic light," said Hansen. "This neurotrauma initiative is based on relevance, making the people who cause accidents more responsible for the damage they cause."
Other anniversary initiatives include the Olympic Inclusion Program which would see elite wheelchair track events moved from demonstration to full medal status at future international athletic gatherings like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
In April and May 1997 Hansen travels to the Northwest and Yukon territories and major cities across Canada, to talk about some of the programs he has developed during the last decade.
One of these is the Life Skills Program currently available to B.C. students from kindergarten to Grade 12. The program focuses on six elements: understanding oneself; communicating with and relating to others; accessing and using information; solving problems and making decisions; living with and initiating change; and setting goals, making and enacting plans. Hansen hopes the program will soon be available to students across Canada.
The third week of May will see the culmination of the 10th Anniversary celebrations in Vancouver, including the 1997 Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Championships -- hosted by the Man in Motion Foundation. Other national meetings and events involve the Canadian Paraplegic Association, the National Neuroscience Network and the Man in Motion Symposium which will bring together many of Canada's leaders in the field of research, rehabilitation, education, health care, government and the private sector.
Hansen, a UBC alumnus and a paraplegic since the age of 15, was appointed as a special consultant on disabilities to UBC President David Strangway in 1989 and helped establish the Disability Resource Centre on campus which promotes the full participation of people with disabilities in post-secondary education. The following year, the Rick Hansen National Fellow Program was created at UBC to foster international awareness of the potential of people with disabilities.
Today, as founding director of UBC's Life Skills Motivation Centre, Hansen conveys his motivational message through speaking engagements, educational seminars, products and initiatives which emphasize the transition of life skills beyond the field of disability.
UBC's Board of Governors has approved a plan to consolidate all endowments associated with Hansen's name into a single entity called the Rick Hansen Trust. This trust will hold funds as an endowment for a Rick Hansen Institute which will be built on campus. Possible tenants in the new facility will be the Rick Hansen National Fellow Program, the Institute of Health Promotion Research, the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Foundation, the Disability Resource Centre, the Life Skills Motivation Centre, and Rick Hansen Enterprises. There will also be space for collaborative projects.