- Luke Anderson
Luke Anderson was a gifted athlete, he was passionate about seeking adventure in the great outdoors and loved working with his hands. He graduated from university with an engineering degree, was following his dream living in the mountains with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts and was working as a home builder. He had the world at his fingertips.
In the fall of 2002 Luke and his good friend Johnny were riding down a tricky trail they had heard other mountain bikers raving about. They came upon a 25ft gap which Johnny cleared without a problem. Luke was determined to give it a try as well. He made sure he was in the right gear, gripped the handlebars tightly, pushed down hard on the pedals, left the takeoff platform and his life as he knew it.
In a split second Luke went from being a very physically independent person to someone who is now very dependent on others for help. In an instant he entered a world that is not well suited for someone that uses a wheelchair.
Today Luke lives a very fulfilling life. He is a licensed professional structural engineer at Blackwell Structural Engineers, a leading engineering firm in Toronto and is cofounder of StopGap. He has enjoyed many speaking engagements at schools and businesses both as an ambassador with the Rick Hansen Institute as well as an independent presenter. Luke is a volunteer bike mechanic at a do-it-yourself community bike shop and lives with his girlfriend Nicola in downtown Toronto.
Invite Luke to your school! Students are given the opportunity to participate in different activities in order to better understand what it might be like to be dependent on others for help. The audience is introduced to the term inclusivity via the StopGap Community Ramp Project, the ramp project is used as an example of how to recognize a challenge or barrier in life and what to do to overcome it.
Luke is able to customize his presentation to suit a specific curriculum or character trait being studied. He will share his story and some of his own experiences living with a disability. Audiences learn how accepting change in our lives can introduce us to new exciting things and consequently make us better people.
"Luke's presentation about his new life inspired the most profound discussion with my students about the great impact the decisions we make in life can have on our future and that our situation in life amounts only to what we make of it. Luke's openness to address student curiosity, his genuine positivity and obvious drive to help others, be it in the realm of physical ease of accessibility or understanding of different life situations, truly struck a cord. It is a gift to have a presenter who can elicit such authentic and honest questions and reflections from 10 and 11 year olds. Thank you for your candour and strength!"
Megan McGee - Grade 5/6 English, Allenby P.S.
"Luke is a highly articulate, engaging speaker that connects well with students of all ages. He helps them make sense of what it means for someone to live life with a disability. His presentation focuses on the fact that we are more alike than different. He also helps students understand how they can support and advocate for change for those living with disabilities. Luke leaves a lasting impact on school communities and a desire to stay connected with the work he is doing to make their city more accessible."
Thelma Sambrook - Principle of Bowmore Road Public School