Ramp Up

The StopGap Foundation's mission is to create barrier free spaces.

Our oldest lives downtown Toronto, and on my visits, we’ve enjoyed walks in High Park, exploring the side streets, and finding good coffee. In one small shop on Bloor St. in Toronto, I found a game that includes nine cubes that look like dice. Instead of dots for numbers, each side of each cube has a picture. You roll the cubes and reveal nine pictures. The game requires the players to create connections with the pictures, intentionally creating accidental stories.

As we left the store, I looked down and noticed something I missed on my way in – a bright blue wooden ramp. It looked worn, but it still functioned as a way to bridge the gap between the sidewalk and the step up to the door. On the side of the ramp, I could make out the words stopgap.ca. Like the cubes with the pictures, this had a story.

Curious to learn more

When I came home, I went online and learned about the StopGap Foundation and their mission to create barrier free spaces. Their story started with one person, Luke Anderson, who experienced a huge life change as a result of a spinal cord injury while biking. His determination to embrace life with his disability and address ableism led to the work of the StopGap Foundation. 

Sitting at my computer and reading Luke’s story made me want to overcome my fear of operating a circular saw and make ramps for StopGap. I long for a barrier free society where persons with mobility challenges don’t have to find a separate entrance or make alternative plans. 

See the story

The StopGap story also reminded me of the Honourable David Onley, a wonderful individual and champion for a barrier free Ontario. The Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Onley leaves a legacy of relentless work specific to accessibility and inclusion. I found it particularly meaningful that throughout his life, he intentionally chose not to hide his disability. In one of his earlier careers reporting on the weather, he insisted on a wide-lens for the camera, so his wheels were seen as well as his face. 

Key starting question

Change is initiated in numerous ways, and I am grateful for the work of disability advocates such as Onley and Anderson. Their stories shape the lens for the rest of us, motivating us to see more. Harnessing our curiosity and asking questions can also reframe our perspective: If someone can’t get into a building on account of their wheelchair, is it the fault of the person with the disability – or is there a greater problem with our infrastructure being designed for only one kind of person?

Perhaps this is all to say that rethinking the stories we know and learning new ones, intentionally or accidentally, is an integral part of figuring out how to live in true community.


  • Sara Pot

    The Pot family story includes a life of caregiving for daughters Rachel and Janneke.

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