To our collaborators, colleagues, and friends, as the year comes to an end, I hope everyone will take the opportunity to spend the holidays with family and friends.
I consider myself an optimistic person, but I had moments in 2022 that sent shockwaves to my core. Between ongoing concerns about the pandemic, the economy, and politics, I heard too many conversations about all the things that make us different. But when did different become an ugly word? Celebrating our differences and finding common ground creates an opportunity to develop a collective idea. If we look beyond ourselves and a singular idea, our potential is endless.
At the Foundation, we make decisions using our Values as a lens. Driven by ideas that were important to Craig H. Neilsen in his lifetime, they are not only who we are but who we aspire to be. As I reflect on them as more than just words on a page, I find myself inspired. If each of us is committed to putting at least one (or two) of these values into action in 2023, think of the barriers we could remove and the broken system we’d change.
- Collaboration—Leverage collective knowledge and encourage sharing of resources and expertise to foster progress and embrace new ideas
- Creativity—Seek bold initiatives to catalyze progress and encourage innovative thinking that pushes boundaries
- Excellence—Support research conducted with rigor and transparency and transformative programs that show significant potential
- Inclusion—Commit to breaking down barriers, expanding opportunities, and promoting equity to help people of every background and ability reach their potential
- Leadership—Lead by example to seek out visionary ideas and improve life after spinal cord injury
Now, if you’ve glossed over them as just another bulleted list, please, go back and really read and reflect on them. Where do you see yourself? Can you identify how you might make a proactive, intentional choice to help ensure people living with a disability live the life they deserve? If that feels like too big a charge and just one more thing to overwhelm an already busy season—try breaking it down. Find a small shift you might make that, over time, will grow into the change you want to see. Imagine what’s possible!
From all of us at the Neilsen Foundation, we wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
With profound appreciation,