Inclusion means that every person is equal. What does that mean for your own life?

The story of Pia Schmid

I was nine and a half years old when the accident happened. As a child, I had no idea what tetraplegia was. I just felt that my legs were heavy. All I wanted to do was run around. It was only after about two months that they told me I would never walk again. I spent three years in the children’s hospital.

My parents fought to ensure that I didn't have to go into a protected workshop for people with a disability. I came home and was able to take part in normal day-to-day life again. I didn't get any preferential treatment and didn't feel any different to other people. At school I was extremely well accepted by my fellow pupils and teachers, which was the start of a normal life for me. Being active and participating in life has always given me hope and has been my source of strength even at times when I didn't feel great.

“I live by the principle that I am no different to anybody else: I can do that, too.”
Pia Schmid, tetraplegia since 1979

Overview stories Beacons of Hope

Courage opens up horizons

When you travel, you face up to the unknown. And this makes it all the more valuable when you realise that you have mastered the challenges of travelling. Tanja Müller, Divisional Head Culture and Leisure, organises trips for wheelchair users. She knows about her customers’ fears and moments of happiness. 

We support people with spinal cord injuries. Throughout their lives.

  • Very few people are aware of the fact that a spinal cord injury means much more than being in a wheelchair. It results in momentous turning points in the life of people with a spinal cord injury. The loss of mobility, no longer being able to walk, maybe only having limited use of your arms are one aspect of it. The loss of bladder and bowel functions, sexual functions, sensory functions and other things are another.

  • On behalf of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, Swiss Paraplegic Research uses an impact model to measure how and where membership fees and donations have the greatest effect. The impact measurement records the total effect of all services provided for people with a spinal cord injury and for society. Two results of the impact measurement:

    A lack of or inadequate access to public places makes life extremely difficult for fifteen per cent of people with a spinal cord injury, while a lack of or inadequately adapted means of transport for longer journeys make life extremely difficult for nine per cent of people. There are almost no differences between Switzerland and Western Europe.

    Attitude of society
    The number of people with a spinal cord injury in Switzerland and in Western Europe who report problems caused by negative social attitudes and negative attitudes of family, relatives and friends is extremely low and fluctuates between two and three per cent. The number of people with a spinal cord injury who have problems caused by negative attitudes of neighbours, acquaintances and colleagues, is comparably low.

  • The travel agency of the Swiss Paraplegics Association organises accessible outings and trips within Switzerland and to neighbouring and faraway countries.

  • The Hotel Sempachersee is one of Switzerland’s largest seminar hotels. The purchase of the hotel in 2012 enabled the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation to place greater emphasis on the strategic issue of “Encounter” by bringing wheelchair users and able-bodied people together as guests and visitors. There are plenty of opportunities for this on the Nottwil Campus, including national and international sports events, congresses, seminars, gastronomic events, weddings, an open-air cinema, restaurant visits and holiday stays.

    The accessible infrastructure fosters encounters between able-bodied people and wheelchair users. Thanks to the extensive renovation and modernisation work that took place leading up to autumn 2017, the whole hotel premises are ideally equipped to continue to meet guests’ high expectations in future, too. The operation has already been awarded Seminar Hotel of the Year eight times.

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