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Home News Spinal Cord Injury Sask. looks to make connections in rural areas with funds raised from Prince Albert tournament

Spinal Cord Injury Sask. looks to make connections in rural areas with funds raised from Prince Albert tournament

Spinal Cord Injury Sask. looks to make connections in rural areas with funds raised from Prince Albert tournament
Golfer Paul Gustafson poses for a photo before lining up a putt at the third annual SCI Sask. Golf Tournament fundraiser on Saturday. -- Submitted photo.

Spinal Cord Injury Saskatchewan Inc. (SCI Sask.) is always looking for ways to get out into the country.

In fact, it’s the primary reason for their latest fundraiser: the third annual Spinal Cord Injury Saskatchewan Golf Tournament at Mark’s 9 in Prince Albert.

This year’s event raised roughly $10,000 for the non-profit, and SCI Sask. executive director Launel Scott said that will go a long way to helping them serve residents outside Saskatchewan’s two largest population centres.

“We have been challenged in the past with trying to reach a lot of the remote or rural areas,” Scott said during an interview on Monday. “These additional resources help us to travel to further places and host some community meetings in different places across Saskatchewan, rather than our only provincial offices in Saskatoon and our regional offices in Regina.”

Scott said rural or remote residents who suffer from spinal cord injuries or other physical disabilities often face additional challenges residents in cities don’t. The biggest challenge is access to medical care, since specialists are few and far between outside Regina and Saskatoon.

The other is general accessibility. Scott said not every rural curling rink, town hall, or store is built to accommodate residents with a physical disability. That can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, and anger.

“Once somebody sustains a spinal cord injury or some other physical disability which causes barriers to getting into homes or buildings, there’s a lot of changes that have to happen in accessibility and making things barrier free,” Scott explained. “That’s a big area, and then, obviously, it’s a huge change in someone’s life. They are starting off in a journey that they and their family are unfamiliar with.”

Scott said some rural residents with suffer a spinal cord injury feel pressured to move to cities where medical care and general accessibility are easier to find. SCI Sask.’s goal is to make sure those residents can receive the services they need while thriving in their small-town home.

“A lot of people then feel that they have to uproot and move into a city so that they can access all these services, and that just does not bode well for someone who maybe has a rural or farming background,” she explained. “So many individuals who have had a spinal cord injury or some other type of physical disability such as loss of limb have proven that (feeling) very wrong. (They) have stayed in the agricultural business and learned all sorts of ways to adapt their farming equipment and how to do business differently.”

The $10,000 raised on Saturday will help with a variety of programs, the biggest of which is a series of town hall meetings to connect with residents in remote and rural areas. SCI Sask. currently serves around 1,100 people across the province, and Scott said they need to make sure no one is left out.

Saturday’s golf tournament fundraiser was the third the organization has held in Prince Albert. The event started in 2019, but COVID forced organizers to cancel the second tournament in 2020.

The fundraiser was back on the calendar in 2021, drawing a record number of participants, but attendance slumped in 2022 with nine teams participating.

Scott said they were a bit anxious about this year’s turnout, since not everyone feels comfortable with large in-person public events yet. Still, she’s grateful for the teams who did come out to support the cause.

“Last year we were overflowing, almost, so a few less—about 50 per cent less this year—but nine was our minimum target, so we were happy to reach that,” she said.

“We really do appreciate people coming back. We had several teams returning from previous years, so that’s always great, and the local businesses in PA and surrounding area have been fabulous as far as sponsoring us and giving us all sorts of raffle prizes to hand out to people who bought the tickets, so I really appreciate PA and the community and Mark’s 9 for hosting it again.