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Former Salmon Arm student raising awareness for people living with disabilities

Maggie Manning is passionate about youth perspectives and global access equality
Maggie Manning playing sledge hockey with the Canadian Women’s Para Hockey High Performance team, July 2022. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm Secondary alum Maggie Manning is continuing her journey advocating for those living with disabilities.

Manning will join other members of the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Youth Leadership Committee on Dec. 2 for a webinar geared towards youth to discuss topics surrounding disability.

Manning serves on the Disability Alliance Youth Caucus which works toward raising global awareness about people with disabilities. This opportunity came after she attended a global disability summit with the Rick Hansen Foundation last year, which was in partnership with the UN among other organizations.

Manning is very excited about the opportunity because her previous advocacy work has mainly been within Canada, and she is excited to learn more and expand her work to other countries.

The webinar is the day before International Day of People with Disabilities, as the recognized day falls on a Saturday this year and the group’s intended audience is school-aged youth, specifically those in Grades 6 to 12. Online events have become more popular since the pandemic and Manning said this has helped the Rick Hansen Foundation in particular spread its message as a lot of the work was previously done face-to-face.

Every year, International Day of People with Disabilities comes with a theme to focus on, and this year’s theme centres around technological and innovative solutions to create a more accessible world.

Peoples’ experiences with disability in other parts of the world are very different from Manning’s own, but also different from anyone’s who lives in Canada or another first-world country. Advocacy in third-world countries has to target a much different audience and their specific problems. For example, Canadian disability technology like wheelchair ramps, automatic doors and assistive devices simply aren’t available in other countries. Manning is excited to be able to tell her story and learn from others.

Registration information for the webinar is available on the School District 83 website.

Manning was granted the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award in 2018 after graduating high school. The award honours Canadians who “emulate Terry’s courage and determination through volunteer work and humanitarian services,” the website reads. The scholarship funded Manning’s first four years of university, and she is currently finishing her fifth year at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

She is studying health sciences and pursuing a diploma in respiratory therapy. She will move on to a practicum clinical rotation in a hospital in May. Her passion for health care comes from her lived experiences undergoing treatment at B.C. Children’s Hospital. She learned the inner workings and care required for pediatric healthcare, and her time in hospital sparked something within her.

Born without a ball and socket joint in her hip, the 22 year-old is no stranger to surgery and hospital life. Although she has lived with limited mobility, she has never let that slow her down. A hip replacement at UBC Vancouver in May 2021 has been a life changer. While the surgery came with a few bumps in the road, her pain has been lower and her mobility a lot better which has been incredible overall, Manning said.

Sports have always been important to Manning. She has been involved in basketball, ringette, hockey, sledge hockey and swimming, a sport in which she has receive multiple titles. Right now, Manning is back on the ice and the basketball court where she feels most at home.

READ MORE: National para-swimmer in Salmon Arm puts her energy into sledge hockey

“I’ve come full circle back to where I started, playing basketball like I did in school. I’m playing high level sledge hockey and basketball, just in the adaptive way. I’m finally back in my niche,” said Manning.

Manning has been passionate about sharing her lived experiences for a long time and is excited to share her story with a larger audience. She used to go between classrooms in her school to talk with classmates, but those presentations were more about anti-bullying and acceptance. With both of her parents being teachers, at a young age she got used to doing talks in schools and asking other teachers if their classes wanted to be involved in her advocacy work.

The webinar will have resources that can be useful for any age group but the language will be geared towards ages 12 to 18. Manning said messaging coming from someone just a little bit older than the teens listening is usually ideal. For a lot of that age group, this may be their first real experience learning about people living with disabilities firsthand, and Manning said it is important to stress to them that disabilities are not always visible.

Manning is passionate about children and youth education, obvious in her advocacy work and her education, and she values coming from a close-knit community.

“Growing up in a small-town, now that I’ve moved away, I’ve realized as an advocate how lucky I’ve been to have such incredible communities around me. I wouldn’t be an advocate without that community, ultimately that community is Salmon Arm.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: People with disabilities raise voices at international climate talks


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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