Neilsen Foundation Supports SCI Program

HEI/SBH’s Spinal Cord Injury Program is thrilled to receive a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation in support of improving transportation options for people living with spinal cord injuries in Haiti.

Our SCI program works with over 100 participants living with spinal cord injuries in their home communities in every region of Haiti. Many of these communities do not have paved roads, and are very difficult to navigate for people in wheelchairs. This can lead to social isolation and difficulties in getting to work, market, school, and other day-to-day activities. The SCI team supports participants by providing home visits, as well as regular support group meetings where participants in each region of Haiti come together for a day of therapy sessions, wheelchair and other equipment maintenance, and socializing with other participants and staff.

The grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation will fund the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van for the SCI program to use in transporting participants to and from support group meetings, as well as to and from income-generating activities like selling handicrafts in the local markets. Without a wheelchair-accessible van, the SCI team picks up participants at their homes and must strap their chairs to the roof while participants are lifted into the van by staff or family members. The process is long, strenuous for staff and family members who must do the heavy lifting, and uncomfortable for the participants. Being able to roll up into a wheelchair-accessible van will make transportation for SCI program participants much more comfortable, and give them an additional feeling of independence and self-sufficiency in a world that often puts barriers in their way.

Sophia Laine, head of physical therapy at SBH, explains how this wheelchair accessible van will benefit the participants in the SCI program who are living at home in their communities: “Having this vehicle will make it easier for everyone to participate in our community-based programs, including people with quadriplegia who have a very hard time transferring in and out of wheelchairs. Thank you to the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for their support. The contribution of an adapted van will make a huge difference for our patients.”

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s funding is dedicated to supporting both programs and scientific research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury. Craig H. Neilsen established the Foundation in 2002 to award grants to a broad spectrum of charities, including those that benefit spinal cord injury efforts. Today, the vision of the Foundation is such that individuals with spinal cord injuries, and those who care for them, live full and productive lives as active participants in their communities.