Ramping Up Social Change
Founder of StopGap Foundation, Engineer, and Social Innovator
After Luke Anderson sustained a spinal cord injury while mountain biking, the active and adventurous world he once inhabited was no longer accessible to him—and neither were many places and events in his city. An engineer by trade, he began to develop brightly-coloured ramps businesses could install at little to no cost. The Ramp Project and StopGap Foundation were born—and they began to change the conversation around accessibility and inclusivity in our cities. Luke’s inspiring talks on social innovation, cities, design, and entrepreneurship are highly sought-after for their poignance, their timeliness, and their ability to get audiences up on their feet, ready to make a change.
Luke Anderson is the founder of the StopGap Foundation. The organization’s volunteer-run Community Ramp Projects open up previously inaccessible spaces and build awareness about how we don’t need to look far for examples of barriers to access—they are often right at our doorsteps.
A civil engineer and outdoor enthusiast, Luke sustained a spinal cord injury in 2002 while mountain biking in British Columbia. When he returned to work in Toronto, his frustration with the built environment came to a boil after encountering one too many inaccessible storefronts. StopGap is building brightly-coloured single-step ramps to not only increase accessibility, but also to start a conversation about the importance of an inclusive society. The project has had early success in Toronto, and is building grassroots support in communities from coast to coast. An amazing thing happens when these ramps show up in a neighbourhood; people don’t just notice who has a ramp, they notice who doesn’t have a ramp. As soon as they ask why, they stop contributing to the problem and become part of the solution.
Luke regularly speaks about accessibility in the media and on behalf of the Rick Hansen Foundation. StopGap has been featured in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CityTV, Global News, CBC, CTV’s Canada AM and many other outlets across the country.
Real Change, Right Now: The StopGap Story
Luke Anderson is the epitome of changemaker. He saw a problem that affected not only him, but many others around him—and he did something about it. Creating a more accessible world has long been viewed as an unwieldy, unfixable issue. Governments have been hesitant to legislate businesses to be accessible, and costs to voluntarily improve accessibility have historically been prohibitive. Not anymore, thanks to Luke’s StopGap Foundation and its Ramp Project.
In this moving talk, Luke shares the story of the accident that led to the creation of StopGap. He tells audiences how to lead by example; how to let their actions speak for them; how to overcome the barriers they will inevitably come across. Luke’s story will ignite a spark inside every single member of your audience. Making an impact in this world, he says, can be much simpler than you may think.
Our Cities, Today and Tomorrow
Have you ever really thought about accessibility? If it’s not an issue that affects you personally, you probably haven’t realized how much a single step into a storefront can be a barrier for someone. But you’ve probably seen and even walked on the brightly-coloured ramps that are at the foot of storefronts across the country. Those are part of The Ramp Project—Luke Anderson’s ingenious way of creating a more accessible world.
In this talk, Luke reveals why a more accessible, barrier-free world is so important. And, he shares the ways in which we, as a community, can achieve these goals. There is a misconception that barriers only refer to physical changes that must be made. That’s not the case. There are a great deal of bureaucratic processes we must think about shifting, starting with education and the simple conversations we can have about the way we think about cities today. When we combine outreach, design solutions, and social innovation, we can ensure society's collective understanding of accessibility continues to advance and grow—and our cities are better and safer places to live for everyone.
Do Good, Make Money: How Businesses Can Drive Social Change and Become More Successful Than Ever
Ten years ago, social innovation and social enterprise were foreign concepts. Why would a business care about anything other than making money? Now, the pendulum has swung the other way. As socially innovative products and companies began to crop up, corporations started to wake up to a new reality. Today’s consumers are not only demanding that companies do good, they are using their dollars to prove that corporate social responsibility and social innovation can fuel massive growth.
In this talk, Luke Anderson explains the rise of StopGap, the social innovation project he founded that has changed the conversation around accessibility and inclusivity in Toronto. Luke will introduce your audience to the concept of social enterprise and how it has the capacity to unite business and social change. He will share the moving story of the accident that inspired StopGap, and how great ideas often come from a place of need. And, he will reveal how and why businesses must embrace the mindset of social innovation to succeed.
Success can be found on a spreadsheet, says Luke. But it can also be found in your community. When businesses take on the challenges facing the people around them, real change can—and will—happen.
Contact us to learn how Luke can craft a message for your audience.