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Welcome to Move The Dial

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Banner Image for Fighting Blindness Canada's Young Leaders Program Move the Dial Workshop. Includes photo of 4 young people holding hands, raised in the air and the FBC logo.

WELCOME MESSAGE

Thank you for joining us for at our Young Leaders Move the Dial virtual workshop! Even though our program looks a bit different this year, we are excited to continue to provide an inclusive and accessible space for you – young people living with sight loss who are looking to the future and all the fantastic possibilities. Whether you have been coming to Young Leaders since the beginning, or this is your first time, you are very welcome here.

Our program is developed in partnership with our fabulous co-chairs! This year it has been our pleasure to work with Alicia Chenier and Ali Usman. On behalf of FBC and our community, thank you for all your efforts to put together this amazing program today. I also want to thank our sponsors RBC Future Launch, Johnson & Johnson and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals for making this program possible.

Today’s workshop includes panels on advocacy and mental and physical wellness, small group discussions and networking opportunities. With each session, you will have the opportunity to ask questions, meet your peers, and share your experiences. We will also share information about how you can help support FBC programming, like Young Leaders, through our new movement challenge, MOVE for SIGHT. I hope you enjoy your time with us today. 

Best,
Morgan Ineson
Senior Manager, Education
Fighting Blindness Canada


meet the 2024 young leaderS co-chairs

alicia chenier

Alicia Grace Chenier is a motivational speaker, aspiring actor and college graduate who is currently pursuing a university degree in disability studies. A brain tumor survivor, chronic illness warrior and disability advocate, Alicia has lived through more lifetimes than the average 24-year-old, and dedicates her time to raising awareness about disability and sharing her story. She regularly advocates for greater accessibility, equal access and inclusivity in her city and beyond.

Alicia lost most of her vision at a very young age due to the brain tumor, but she has never let that slow her down. Her life motto is “blind girl in a sighted world” as she has adapted to navigating the world and living well with sight loss, and she will never lose her vision to create change.

Ali usman

Photo of Ali Usman

Ali Usman is a dedicated scientist pursuing a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics in Regina, SK. He has conducted research at prestigious institutions like CERN, Brookhaven National Lab, and Jefferson Lab, focusing on the origins of the universe and sub-atomic particles. Outside the lab, Ali enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and indulging in music and movies. He’s an avid advocate for science outreach and volunteers extensively. Facing the challenge of retinitis pigmentosa, Ali is determined to make science accessible to people with disabilities. His future goal is to work in science policy, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the scientific world.


Young leaders move the dial PROGRAM

Saturday, June 1, 2024
12 pm – 4:30 pm ET

Register on Zoom

12-12:05 p.m. – Opening remarks from Morgan Ineson, Senior Manager, Education, Fighting Blindness Canada.

12:05 – 12:50 p.m. – Focus on Advocacy panel
Moderated by Young Leader Co-Chair Alicia Chenier, we will sit down with film and TV producer Joe Strechay, TEDx speaker, author and blind storyteller Anne Mok, and advocacy and accessibility expert Ben Akuoko, learn more about how they use advocacy in their personal and professional lives and hear their stories of the ups and downs of being a strong self-advocate.

12:50 – 1 p.m. – Break

1 – 1:45  p.m. – Advocacy breakout sessions
Join our three panelist for small group discussions about advocacy. Topics will include disability representation in media, developing a personal brand and disability disclosure.

1:45 – 2 p.m. – Team trivia 

2 – 2:10 p.m. – Stretch break (optional) 

2:10 – 2:30 p.m. –  Break  

2:30 – 3:20 p.m. – Sports, Movement & Mental Health panel  
Our minds and bodies are intimately connected, and incorporating accessible healthy movement into our day to day lives has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health and well-being. Join Canadian Paralympians and athletes to hear about how and why they choose to move and how it benefits them in a myriad of ways. Panelists include National Blind Hockey player and coach Conrad Eder, judoka Eitel Houedakor, goalball Parapan Am bronze medalist Emma Reinke and retired swimmer Donovan Tildesley.

3:20 – 3:25 p.m. – Closing Remarks  – Join us to MOVE for Sight!

3:25 – 3:35 p.m. – Short break 

3:35 – 4:30 p.m. – Mentorship session, for current mentorship participants only. 

MEET THE SPEAKERS

Ben Akuoko

A photo of Ben Akuoko.

Ben Akuoko is an individual who lives with partial sight known as Retinitis Pigmentosa. He is a registered social worker, graduating from Sheridan College with his Social Service Worker diploma, a Social Work degree from Laurentian University and is a recent graduate from Masters of Social Work at the University of Waterloo. Ben currently works at the CNIB as an advocacy and accessibility Program Lead in Ontario West. He is a huge advocate in highlighting the importance of intersectionality in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Ben is a firm believer that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility should be a top point of discussion in the community of persons living with disabilities. On Ben spare time he enjoys making hip hop and R&B music, podcasting, dancing, running and weight training.  

conrad eder

A photo of Conrad Eder

Conrad Eder has been a member of Fighting Blindness Canada’s Young Leaders Program since 2019. He served as a program co-chair in 2022, and most recently represented the program while speaking at the launch of FBC’s Move for Sight fundraiser. A Canadian para-athlete, Conrad plays for Canada’s National Blind Hockey team. He has participated in national and international blind hockey competitions, recently winning gold as a member of Team Canada at the International Blind Ice Hockey Series. Conrad is passionate about growing the game, especially in his hometown of Ottawa where he helps run the Ottawa 67’s Blind Hockey Program.

Eitel Houedakor

Photo of Eitel Houedakor

Eitel Houedakor has always been passionate about sports, thriving in various athletic activities, including sprinting, long jumps, climbing, and playing soccer. After losing his vision and settling in Canada, Eitel faced the challenge of adapting to a new environment while pursuing his love for sports. From 2016 to 2018, he competed in regional tournaments, winning gold and silver medals in the 50-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 200-meter relay race, long jumps, and shot put. Additionally, he earned a bronze medal in the 100-meter medley in swimming.

Eitel’s journey of perseverance didn’t stop there. From 2019 to 2020, he represented Beurling Academy High School in regional wrestling tournaments, ranking fourth in his division by the end of the season. In 2021, Eitel returned to judo with renewed determination. Two years of dedicated preparation led to his participation in the 2023 provincial judo tournament, where he competed as the only blind judoka and secured a bronze medal in the U21 minus 81-kilogram division. Soon to be a brown belt, Eitel has joined the Canadian Paralympic Judo team, aspiring to perform on the international stage.

Sports have been instrumental in shaping Eitel’s character and fostering a growth mindset. Participating in athletics has taught him resilience, discipline, and the joy of striving for excellence. As a strong advocate for the benefits of athletics, he believes that our bodies are extraordinary resources, and pushing our limits through sports can lead to profound discoveries about our capabilities, mental resilience and emotional well-being.

Anne mok

Photo of Anne Mok.

Anne Mok, a fearless advocate, TEDx speaker, author  and blind storyteller, reshapes the narrative of a purposeful life, defying odds with resilience and determination. Her inspiring journey serves as a beacon of hope, navigating life’s challenges with unwavering courage. Committed to making a positive impact, Anne illuminates lives, demonstrating that greatness knows no boundaries.

Reflecting on her journey, Anne embraces her blindness and Asian heritage, discovering strength to rewrite her life’s path. She inspires others to embrace their unique stories and voices. Anne forges connections and fosters inclusivity, overcoming barriers with remarkable ability. Her unwavering belief in true inclusion shines in every endeavor. Active on social media, she leverages her influence to bring education and awareness to the blind community, advocating for their rights. She creates a space for dialogue and change, empowering individuals and contributing to a more inclusive society. Anne’s story is one of triumph, resilience, and the transformative power of embracing identity, leaving an indelible mark on the world. Her ongoing advocacy inspires, educates, and promotes a more inclusive and understanding society.

Emma Reinke

Photo of Emma Reinke

Originally from St Thomas, ON, Emma Reinke moved to Ottawa in 2018 to train full time for goalball. While in Ottawa, she has attended two World championships, and two ParaPan American games: Lima 2019 with a bronze medal finish, and Santiago 2023 with a gold medal finish that qualified Canada for Paris 2024. She also attended the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

Emma has been playing Goalball for team Ontario since 2013, and has been a member of the Canadian women’s national Goalball team since 2017. She is also working towards an environmental studies degree at Carleton University.

Joe Strechay

Photo of Joe Strechay

Joe Strechay specializes in bringing award-winning stories involving disability to screen while making productions accessible to cast and crew with disabilities. He has worked on numerous scripts with writers around the world, advises on scripts to set decoration to props to the blocking of scenes with the directors and cast, and assists in casting actors who are blind or low vision for numerous shows and networks. Currently, he is an associate producer on Netflix’s All the Light We Cannot See, which was released to critical acclaim in fall 2023. Over three seasons, he helped to build the World of SEE on AppleTV+ including working on casting for seasons 2 and 3, and served as co-executive Producer on Season 3. He has also served as a consultant on Marvel’s Daredevil and The OA.

Joe has worked in leadership in multiple state government agencies and developed programs for non-profits. Holding an undergrad from East Carolina University and completing graduate studies at Florida State University, he is also the spokesperson for the new American Printing House for the Blind Museum (under construction), The Dot Experience. Joe lives in Fayetteville, WV with his wife, Jen.

Donovan Tildesley

Photo of Donovan Tildesley

Donovan Tildesley is a 39-year-old Vancouver native and holds a BA degree in English Literature from the University of British Columbia. He is a full-time insurance broker and an accomplished swimmer who has traveled the world extensively. Donovan also has a passion for radio, and was the co-founder of 101.5 Whistler FM.

Donovan lives with total blindness since birth due to Leber Congenital Amaurosis. Despite this, his parents were determined to expose him to all types of activities. By age nine, he joined his first swim team, and by age 16 he joined Team Canada, where he competed in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in the 200 m individual medley (IM). Donovan’s career highlights include five gold and one silver medal win at the 2002 IPC World Championships, participating in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, multiple gold medals at the 2007 Para PanAmerican Games, two silver and one bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics where he was also the flag bearer. He also competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Having retired from competition in 2014, Donovan now focuses his energy at Vancouver’s Buntain Insurance Agencies as a General Insurance Agent, as well as inspiring audiences of all ages to overcome their own life challenges.

get involved

It’s always so wonderful to come together as a community. We hope you will consider keeping the momentum going and join us for our new, inclusive fundraising challenge MOVE FOR SIGHT. Joining this challenge is a great way to support vision research and FBC programs, like Young Leaders.

With MOVE FOR SIGHT, participate in any way you like: walk, run, cycle, hike or knit or bake. Conrad is organizing a blind hockey game; Jackie is doing karaoke. The choice is yours! The important thing is to MOVE and join hundreds of other Canadians on Sunday, June 23. If you are not available on June 23, that is okay too. You can choose anytime before then to complete your own personal challenge. Be sure to tag us on Instagram @fightingblindnessca.

To join our team, please click the JOIN NOW button on our MOVING with Young Leaders team page. If this is your first time participating in one of our fundraising events you will need to create an account. If you need any help with this, please reach out to us at moveforsight@fightingblindness.ca.

JOIN US AT YOUNG LEADERS TORONTO

Registration is now open for our fall summit in Toronto! This event will take place at the same time as View Point Toronto, and includes three sessions and a networking dinner. We have travel bursaries up to $150 each available for a limited number of people who are living in Ontario. Sign up early to secure your spot! 

REGISTER FOR YOUNG LEADERS TORONTO

sponsors

The Young Leaders Program is proudly supported by RBC Future Launch, Johnson & Johnson and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals

Compilation of Young Leaders Sponsor Logos: RBC Future Launch, Johnsons & Johnson and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals


Join the Fight!

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