Rich Vander Wal
Rich brings a unique approach to Neurocore as he designed and built much of the space to reflect a calming, non-traditional atmosphere where someone with a neurological condition will have the opportunity to exercise in an accessible, warm and friendly environment.
Having experienced a traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in 1992, which resulted in complete T4 Paraplegia, Rich brings a wealth of personal life experiences to individuals living with a neurological condition and the challenges that may accompany this life change.
Re-evaluating his personal values led him to Brock University where he was a recipient of the prestigious Price Waterhouse Coopers Gold Medal for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 1998. He graduated with a Bachelor of Recreation and Leisure Studies in 1999 and went on to attain an Honour’s post-graduate certificate in Therapeutic Recreation from Georgian College in 2000. In 2013, Rich was awarded the Georgian College Board of Governors Distinguished Alumni Award.
As a qualified Recreation Therapist at Neurocore, Rich can help you to enhance your mobility skills further or work with you to develop new skills in an activity or sport of your choice.
Working as a Recreation Therapist for 5 years at Toronto Rehab. Institute, Lyndhurst Centre, he worked to re-establish the “Outdoor Cottage Program”, lead the “Community Integration” Program and created a new “Get Outside” program to allow clients the opportunity to develop skills and increased confidence when using their new mobility aids. Rich still continues to assist clients and therapists with development of practical skills to enhance function and Quality of Life.
Rich’s dual interest for providing education and acting as a resource for customized seating and competitive sports equipment encouraged him to seek a position at Motion Specialties in 2006. He currently continues part time in this role as an educator and sales consultant with a focus on adaptive sports.
Rich’s unique teaching ability and life experience is an inspiration to anyone who attends his talks. He has been pivotal in providing education series and acting as a resource for individuals with neurological conditions, therapists of various disciplines and students of various age groups. Topics he covers include: Customized seating, wheelchair set-up & mobility, recreational and competitive sports equipment, promotion of physical activity, and sexuality & relationships.
Everyone has to find purpose in life. Richs mission is about creating awareness and education to assist in others transition back to a life with an adequate level of quality and involvement.
Rich has travelled internationally to assist with integration and awareness in communities not familiar with the needs for patrons with a disability.
In Canada Rich has had a role volunteering with the following groups.
- Rick Hansen Foundation, Wheels-in-Motion Keynote Speaker/Ambassador
- Rick Hansen Foundation, Toronto Solutions Committee
- Canadian Paralympic Committee – CMCL Presenter
- Canadian Paraplegic Association- Peer Support Program
- Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association – Board of Directors
- Ontario Wheelchair Sports- Bridging the Gap Presenter
- Parasport Ontario, Athlete Ambassador
- Sunnybrook Hospital PARTY Program
- Toronto Accessible Sports Council
- SCI Action Canada – Advisory Panel
- TRI Spinal Cord Rehab Lyndhurst Centre- Patient Educator
Rich’s involvement in various sport heavily defines his values and goals. He has represented Canada for 3 different sports; rowing, tennis and alpine skiing. In addition his other sports interests include road racing, off road hand cycling, triathlons, kayaking and scuba diving. He has received the “Order of Lake Ontario”, captained the “Golden Horseshoe Marathon” and been selected as Tennis Canada and Dairy Farmers of Canada’s “Everyday Champion”.
There are only 2 things he doesn’t do well, basketball and sitting still.
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