Quantum speaks, connects

Friday, July 31, 2009

Quantum Rehab is no stranger to community outreach, but the manufacturer of complex power wheelchairs took its efforts to the next level in July.

That’s when Quantum, a division of Pride Mobility Products, kicked off Quantum Speak Out, a program designed to increase awareness of disabilities. The program’s hallmark: Three speakers with different disabilities will visit schools, civic groups and other organizations on a regular basis.

“A commitment to the community has always been part of our mission, but in 2009, we wanted to have a more formal program,” said Kirsten DeLay, Pride’s senior vice president of sales management and operational planning. “We don’t believe our job as educators is ever done, particularly when you think about the spectrum of people to educate.”

The speakers: Mark Smith, Pride’s consumer research manager, who was born with cerebral palsy; Bryan Anderson, a spokesman for Quantum Rehab, who lost the use of both legs and one hand in Iraq; and Madonna Long, a consumer advocate who was paralyzed as a teenager after a school bus accident.

Smith, Anderson and Long are all seasoned speakers.

“We know the difference these programs can make,” Smith said. “We’ve made tremendous strides toward disability acceptance in recent years, but the reality is people are still unfamiliar with disabilities and people with disabilities. We’ve found, though, after presentations, they feel more comfortable.”

Pride also sees Quantum Speak Out as a way to showcase the abilities and talents of people with disabilities, including Smith, Anderson and Long.

“(The presentations will help) people at the Chamber of Commerce or other business people recognize the full range of talent that exists within their community,” said Dick McLane, Pride’s marketing manager.

Quantum Speak Out builds on existing programs, including message boards on the company’s Web site for people with disabilities.