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Need and Impact


It is estimated that more than 100 million people throughout the world are in need of a wheelchair but cannot afford one. These people cannot be helped by canes, crutches, walkers or prosthetics. A wheelchair is their only hope for mobility and independence.

On average, roughly 3% of the population in developing states are physically disabled and unable to afford a wheelchair. The majority of these people live in moderate or extreme poverty.

There are many reasons for the large prevalence of physical disability worldwide. These factors include: war, disease, accident, lack of health care, and aging among others. Due to civil unrest, landmines and unexploded ordnances and lack of government records, the percentage of physically disabled is likely grossly underestimated. Although international efforts such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), have aided in reducing the specific problem of landmines, some states continue to produce, sell, and use these weapons against civilian populations. As a result, the need for wheelchairs will continue.

Ongoing conflict and civil war has put the disability rates in countries like Angola as high as 20%. States including Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and Sierra Leone are not far behind.

The hardship immobility creates is felt more in developing states than anywhere else. The physically disabled are often unable to gain education or employment and are viewed as an added burden in places where mere survival is no guarantee.


The delivery of a wheelchair to a person without mobility improves the quality of life of the entire family. In gaining mobility, persons with disabilities are given an opportunity to integrate themselves into society; by attending school, going to work, and becoming a part of the community.

A wheelchair provides people with the opportunity to better their own lives. Through the gift of mobility, persons with physical disabilities are able to contribute to both family and community life in new ways. Recipients are not the only ones whose lives are altered by the presence of a wheelchair. By a physically disabled person gaining increased mobility, human resources, be it from family or friends, are being freed for both employment and education.

It is estimated that an average of 10 lives are impacted in a positve way with the delivery of every wheelchair.





More Information

For more information about the Canadian Wheelchair Mission, please contact:

Christiana Flessner
Executive Director
Canadian Wheelchair Foundation
P.O. Box 75038, RPO White Rock
Surrey, BC V4A 0B1 Canada
Email: cflessner@cdnwheelchair.ca
Phone: +1 (604) 536-2022
Fax: +1 (604) 536-9831
Toll Free (in Canada): +1 (866) 666-2411