The Columbia House Enhancement Society (CHES) has instigated a project that will make getting around a little easier for the residents of Columbia House.
“Katie’s Van” a wheelchair-accessible van has been made available through the society for residents, their family members, and those in need around the community.
“With the help of Katie, Nick and Judy Gibbs, we have access to a wheelchair van. Katie has an electric wheelchair now so they don’t need it as much. Families can take their loved ones home for a meal or take them to go and see different areas, which is great, because not everyone has a wheelchair-equipped van,” said CHES Member John Newton.
The van is insured and people can pick it up at their convenience.
“It’s really quite easy. People can take their mom and whoever home for dinner, and take them back. If you want to go to Kinsmen Beach in the summer you can go down there. Unfortunately, this town is not really wheelchair accessible, so we have been working on that,” he said.
Kate Gibbs is thrilled to be able to give back to the community. The diverse abilities advocate was born with cerebral palsy and has been busy completing her education at The College of the Rockies in Cranbrook with a diploma in Human Service Work.
“I loved it — I was down there for a couple of years and I lived on my own and made some friends,” said Ms. Gibbs.
The opportunity to live and study on her own was a big accomplishment for the Invermere native.
“Having my independence was awesome. At first I didn’t know if I could do it, but now I know that I can,” she said.
Ms. Gibbs maintains that when you are living with a disability, independence is essential to a higher quality of living. With the support of her mom and dad, Ms. Gibbs has come far over the years with the help of her friends, teachers and caregivers and she looks forward to continuing her work in the community.
The van was originally inspired by Ms. Gibbs’ late grandmother who was a resident of Columbia House and a huge support to her.
“She would have loved it — she always loved coming to the Children’s Hospital with me in Calgary and she was instrumental in the development of “Katie’s Van,” Ms. Gibbs told the Pioneer.