Defying the odds since she was young, Cathy Corns has lived for over 55 years with cerebral palsy and has passed the milestone of 30+ years of independent living. At a young age, she participated in activities many would define as impossible for an individual with her condition, such as being a Girl Guide. She was one of the first girls with a disability to attend Alberta Girls Parliament from the Girl Guide movement. Cathy has a positive attitude and she “…is amazed by the fact that I can do these things while living in a predominantly able-bodied society. As opposed to sitting by a window twiddling my thumbs, I fight every day to keep my autonomy.”
It was through the support of her family and the government, that Cathy became one of the earliest test cases for independent living after having been in a long-term care facility. She was able to build her life to match that of a non-disabled individual.
However, throughout her life Cathy realized that in order to be fully independent, some assistance is necessary. This awareness originally came about from the use of her first lift, designed by Dave Smith, who also worked on the development of the Lift2Go. This lift impacted Cathy greatly, similar to the current impact of the Lift2Go.
The main use of the first lift was in the family home, which allowed Cathy to visit her family more frequently from the Carewest Fanning Centre. With this device, anyone could lift Cathy and move her around with ease. In particular, her sister was able to wash Cathy’s hair in the bathtub without risk of injury to either of them. Not only this, but the physical feeling of being out of her wheelchair gave a sense of freedom to Cathy.
It is because of her experience with these past lifts that Cathy has become an ambassador for the Lift2Go. She perceives that the use of the device will increase independence and create accessibility for disabled individuals. The Lift2Go allows individuals to go up flights of stairs with very little assistance. An example would be at Cathy’s family dinners, where it takes four of the strongest able-bodied people to lift her 300+ pound electric wheelchair up 2 stairs to join the family. With the Lift2Go, Cathy will no longer have to rely on four people to get her up the stairs, but rather one who would set up the lift and manage it. Cathy truly saw a vision of how important this project would be for the day-to-day living of many individuals. Cathy believes independent living comes in many forms, yet all could be made easier through the implementation of the Lift2Go in everyday lives.
Article by E. Higgins based on interviews with C. Corns June 2019