Autumn inspirations

Posted on by StartWithHi

It’s been a real pleasure this summer, sharing our stories of the self-advocates who work so hard to promote inclusion and diversity with Start With Hi. As we move into Fall, new challenges and inspirations will present themselves.

Together, we will make big changes happen by starting with simple acts. A Hi can open doors to conversations, which can change how we treat our neighbours, how we think about accessibility and then choose to work towards change. We hope you’ll keep on sharing your stories and favourite ‘Hi’ moments with us and one another.

Autumn can often feel like a beginning – new school schedules, transit schedules, different weather, daylight savings ends – it’s almost a new year kind of feeling. Give yourself and your loved ones a sense of new energy and purpose this Fall. Give yourself a Hi!


Summer holiday fun and accessibility

Posted on by StartWithHi

This vacation season, we’re asking questions about accessibility.

A family outing to a sunny festival ground, or a short trip in the car is pretty standard at this time of year, but what does it mean when someone you care about needs to access events in a special way?

When you go to an outdoor festival, is there enough signage for someone who is hearing impaired to find their way? When a food festival opens, are there proper facilities for a foodie in a wheelchair? When is a camping trip like for someone who needs special care?

For many families, figuring out the logistics of an outing or a short trip are a normal part of summer. What can organizers and other participants to to make these fun activities more inclusive?

This summer, let’s think about what small things we can do to make a shared activity that much more enjoyable.

About Self-Advocates: Manjeet

Posted on by StartWithHi

This month, we’re looking at why we started Start with Hi, and some of the people without whom all of our efforts would be impossible.

Manjeet is a self-advocate who cares about making her world a more inclusive place. She sits on the board of the Semiahmoo House Society and works hard to make others feel like they belong.

Saying hi can be a very simple and powerful tool. Manjeet has done public speaking on behalf of other self-advocates and she uses her message about starting with Hi to advocate for big changes. She has met with legislators and others who can make a real difference for people  and families touched by disabilities.

Manjeet expressed the heart of Start With Hi on Global News BC earlier this year, and has met with prominent Canadians to talk about the real challenges faced by people touched by disabilities. She knows that starting a real connection with a Hi makes it easier for people to work together to overcome obstacles.

Manjeet’s energy and activism are truly inspiring for all of us. Her insistence that we include one another and really hear each other when we need assistance, or just to connect, is important for anyone. Making space for others and thinking about how to make more inclusion happen can change the world, one small space at a time.

Everyone deserves to feel cared for.

By being a self-advocate, Manjeet is helping to demonstrate the kind of inclusion we should all expect from one another. We can’t thank her enough for her courage and energy.

Thanks Manjeet!

Watch Manjeet’s Video

See Manjeet on Global BC

About Self-Advocates: Emily

Posted on by StartWithHi

This month, we’re looking at why we started Start with Hi, and some of the people without whom all of our efforts would be impossible.

Emily is all about those small changes in your neighbourhood that make a huge difference. For her, starting with Hi means making more of an effort to reach out to those people you see every day near your home.

Can you remember the last time you said hi to a new neighbour? Making someone new feel welcome has a powerful effect on the whole community. We’re all safer and more likely to help one another when we make an effort to connect with one another.

Neighbourhoods can mean your local block, but it can also mean something much bigger. Emily volunteers at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., an organization that helps new Canadians. For Emily, the neighbourhood doesn’t just mean houses nearby, it means a community where people want to make their home.

It’s important to feel welcome and included. From Emily’s view, reaching out to your neighbours is just as beneficial to you as it is to them. Remembering that inclusion is a two-way street is an important part of Start With Hi.

Welcoming others helps the whole community.

By being a self-advocate, Emily is showing us just how much can be accomplished with a simple hi. We can’t thank her enough for her inspiring example.

Thanks Emily!

Watch Emily’s Video

About Self-Advocates: Amy

Posted on by StartWithHi

This month, we’re looking at some of the people who have helped inspire the Start with Hi movement. Amy is one of them.

Amy is a self-advocate who “walks the talk,” greeting and welcoming people at every turn. She loves to encourage and congratulate others because she knows how good it feels. Amy is an inspiring speaker and when she makes presentations she talks about how proud she is of her family and friends, how fulfilling her life feels and how she is open to talking and sharing with others.

According to Amy, just saying hi can seem simple enough, but it’s very powerful. Amy tells us to not be afraid to say hi and not let fear keep us silent. By reaching past that fear to say hi to someone else, we can make new connections and revitalize old ones.

Amy’s optimistic message is inspiring. She makes others feel included, valued, visible.

She chooses to see everything (and everyone) around her as an opportunity  — what positive way to live life!

By being a self-advocate, Amy is helping all of us understand how meaningful it is to feel included. We can’t thank her enough for her hopefulness and inspiration.

Thanks Amy!

Watch Amy’s Video

About Self-Advocates: TracyJo

Posted on by StartWithHi

This month, we’re looking at why we started Start with Hi, and some of the people without whom all of our efforts would be impossible.

TracyJo is a self-advocate who cares about finding things we have in common, instead of focusing on what makes each of us different. She knows that making and maintaining connections helps everyone.

One important part of TracyJo’s video is the connection she has to the people at the Echo newspaper. By keeping her connections strong, TracyJo now knows that there are people who will check in with her if they think she might need help. Instead of having to ask for help if she needs it, TracyJo has people in her life who will offer help and stay connected with her.

Keeping up our relationships is so important for just the reason that TracyJo reminds us of. It’s not always fair to expect someone in trouble to work up the courage to ask for help. It’s up to all of us to be observant and sensitive to the people around us.

Feeling valued and cared-for is something everyone needs.

By being a self-advocate, TracyJo is helping all of us understand how important it is to feel connected and we can’t thank her enough for her insights and enthusiasm.

Thanks TracyJo!

Watch TracyJo’s video.

About Self-Advocates: Cliff

Posted on by StartWithHi

This month, we’re looking at why we started Start with Hi, and some of the people without whom all of our efforts would be impossible.

Cliff is a self-advocate who cares about making everyday activities simple for anyone. He loves taking the bus wherever he goes, and over time he’s come to know the bus drivers on his regular route quite well.

When bus drivers started to greet Cliff on the bus, it became easier for him to ask for help when he was being bullied. It’s a natural instinct to ask for help from someone else, but it’s not always easy to do. We’ve all felt shy asking for help sometimes, and when it comes to asking for help from a stranger, we might feel too shy to ask at all.

Help can mean something as simple as explaining a bus schedule, or trying out something new at the gym with a friend instead of by yourself. It’s often the little things like this that make the biggest difference in our day.

By being a self-advocate, Cliff is helping all of us build stronger, safer communities. We can’t thank Cliff enough for all his work and enthusiasm.

Thanks Cliff!

Watch Cliff’s video.

What is a self-advocate?

Posted on by StartWithHi

As we take some time to look at what Start with Hi is really all about, we want to highlight some of the inspiring and powerful people who joined us. First and foremost are the self-advocates who work with Start with Hi.

Some of you might have seen self-advocates in our videos, on television and at events talking about Start with Hi and the importance of inclusion. If you’re not familiar with the term, a self-advocate is someone from within a community who expresses their own perspective, needs and wishes. This is really important because it’s often easy for people who care about others to end up speaking for a community, instead of supporting community self-expression.

Most of the time, it’s not done on purpose, they just want to help. But when you see Emily at her part-time job, Cliff out at his gym, Manjeet inspiring others on the board of Semiahmoo house and Amy out with her friends, there’s no denying that these powerful people deserve to be heard from directly.

When we talk about inclusion, we mean everyone. We mean people who live with a disability, caregivers, family, friends, neighbours, and more. When you start looking at who is touched by disability, it’s easy to see that everyone is touched by disability in some way or another.

We’ve already seen exceptional stories of self-advocacy, from parents who hold schools accountable, to neighbours who reach out to others, professional photographers who want to share their idea of beauty and simple acts of kindness that have lasting effects. We couldn’t have done any of it without the self-advocates from Start with Hi who speak up for inclusion.

In the next little while, we’ll be profiling and sharing stories from the self-advocates who have already made such a difference in BC and beyond. We hope you’ll join us!

Why share a hi?

Posted on by StartWithHi

Welcome to the first week of June! Everyone around us seems to have a spring in their step as summer approaches.

We want to take a moment to say a personal thank you to everyone reading this blog and to reinforce how important Start With Hi is to our community. When we started, we never dreamed that so many people would share our messages of participation and tell us such inspiring stories about how a simple hi started something positive.

Start with Hi began as a place for people to learn about how to make others — specifically people with developmental disabilities — feel safe and comfortable in their own neighbourhoods and communities. What blossomed from that is a British Columbia-wide (and beyond!) movement built on inclusion and caring. We’re so pleased to be a part of this and we can’t wait to share more of your stories.

Please join us on Facebook, share a message of participation and tell us a story about how a simple hi made a difference in your life or the life of someone else.

Welcome to start with hi!