Website offers free educational videos and resources to families and individuals with spinal cord injury
FacingDisability.com was launched in 2011 with the mission, “to connect families dealing with spinal cord injuries with the life experiences of others, and to provide medical information and resources.” The website is funded by the Hill Foundation for Families Living with Disabilities, a 501(c) (3) non-profit.
A Project Born From Personal Experience
In 1986, Bob Hill and Thea Flaum’s daughter, Vicki Hill, endured a C-5 spinal cord injury after diving into a swimming pool. During rehabilitation, Vicki experienced the value of connecting with others who had already “rolled a mile” in her shoes. The website explains:
“The [peer mentoring] program introduced [Vicki] to other people who had sustained injuries like hers a few years before. They helped her learn how to think about her disability and live with her new body. They offered a lot more than well-meaning help and advice. They were the undeniably believable and unquestionably honest voices of experience.”
Vicki’s family discovered, however, that there weren’t the same types of opportunities or resources for parents and loved ones, at least in their area. A lack of these programs coupled with their desire to support family members affected by spinal cord injury motivated Bob and Thea to create FacingDisability.com.
“Thea and Bob created the [Hill Foundation] and the website in the belief that connecting with the life experiences of others who have been down the path ahead of you often helps people find their own strength and support.”
On FacingDisability.com, visitors can find over 2,000 high-quality HD videos from interviews of family members answering real-life questions about how they cope, as well as interviews with top spinal cord injury experts on important medical subjects.
VIDEO: Do Children with SCI Grow Up to marry and raise families?
VIDEO: VIC shares where he got the best financial help after SCI
The Hearts and Creative Minds Behind the Website
Thea Flaum is the President of the Hill Foundation and the creative leader of the website. Over 30 years of experience from her successful television career made video the perfect medium to connect families and share information – and the Internet was the ideal vehicle.
After selling her television company about 10 years ago, Thea committed herself to this new project with the philosophy that people in this space would “bring the same expectations for quality.”
A couple of years later, FacingDisability.com was launched with just over 800 videos.
In a recent interview with Cure Medical, Thea shared her belief that many of the challenges of SCI are due to a combination of several unique factors:
- the condition is relatively rare (with an estimated 17,000 new injuries per year)
- it’s almost always a result of some sort of trauma
- in many cases the injuries are permanent
“A spinal cord injury affects the entire family. FacingDisability.com is designed to help families cope effectively, resiliently and creatively with the changing realities of all their lives.”
Co-founder of the Hill Foundation, Bob Hill is known as the moving force behind the creation of the website. His love for his daughter and understanding of the needs of families facing spinal cord injury helped bring the project to life.
Today, they’ve interviewed over one hundred individuals, creating a collection of videos that “contains powerful evidence that successful, fulfilling lives are possible after spinal cord injury.”
Meet the other talented team members of FacingDisability.com here.
VIDEO: JIM SHARES what’s gotten easier over time with a spinal cord injury
VIDEO: APRIL DISCUSSES SEX AND DATING AFTER SPINAL CORD INJURY
FacingDisability.com Offers a Variety of Free Resources for Spinal Cord Injuries
- Quick start guide to SCI
- Family and caregiver support
- Assistive technology
- Active lifestyle
- Sex and fertility
- Pediatric SCI
- Employe and education
- Professional organizations
- Government programs
- Financial help
- Model systems hospitals
- Good things to read
- Basic care and condition materials
The website also offers free, virtual peer counseling. In their program, “a Peer Counselor is someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and who has had several years of real-life experience in dealing with a spinal cord injury similar to yours. The communication between you is through written messages in private mailboxes on the FacingDisability website. The people on both sides are anonymous.”
People with SCI and their families are also welcome to connect on their public Facebook Page or to join their private Facebook group, You Are Not Alone – Dealing with Spinal Cord Injury.
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