TD Bank Group Scholarship Helps Fix Inequality in Graduate Education for People With Disabilities

March 8, 2012– Anita Kaiser always planned to be a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. That was until a car crash in 1996 left her paralyzed below her chest. She knew then her new focus would be rehabilitation research. Thanks to TD Bank Group’s unique scholarship for graduate students living with a disability, Anita has completed her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Science.

Anita’s story is not commonplace for people with disabilities. In fact, only one in 10 working-age adults living with a disability has a university degree, compared to one in five without a disability. And even fewer adults with disabilities go on to complete a graduate degree.

That is what inspired TD to fund two more years of the TD Grant in Medical Excellence: A scholarship in Rehabilitation-Related Research for People with Disabilities, bringing their total support of this program to $750,000.

“TD is committed to investing in the future of our communities. This grant is a great way for us to honor that commitment,” says Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group. “Toronto Rehab has created a unique scholarship program to engage people with disabilities in rehabilitation research by removing the barriers that students with disabilities often face when pursuing higher education.”

Among the first-of-its-kind in Canada, this scholarship program has benefited 12 students since its inception in 2006. The program is administered by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) and was created by Toronto Rehab and the Toronto Rehab Foundation.

“Each of us has a high probability of acquiring a disability during our lifetime, “ says Dr. Geoff Fernie, Institute Director of Research, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, who developed the idea for the scholarship. “We will be grateful to the research scientists, who have actually experienced disabilities themselves and contributed to the development of innovations that will help us. TD’s generous scholarship helps equalize access to graduate studies by supplementing costs related to housing, travel, assistive devices and services that can burden students with disabilities, and encourages people with disabilities to pursue careers in a growing field where they have a special contribution to make.”

Anita recently published her research and hopes to help establish a sexual health, family planning and parenting program for people with a spinal cord injury. She credits TD and Toronto Rehab for helping her establish a career in rehabilitation research and outreach.

“By creating this scholarship, Toronto Rehab and TD are sending a very powerful message that students with disabilities can make a valuable contribution to research,” says Anita Kaiser. “They are also saying that individuals with disabilities have an important role to play in society.”

With the support of TD, Toronto Rehab will open the 2012 scholarship competition in May and announce the recipients later in November.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

One of North America’s leading rehabilitation sciences centres, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is revolutionizing rehabilitation by helping people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age related health conditions to live active, healthier, more independent lives. It integrates innovative patient care, groundbreaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system.

Toronto Rehab, along with Toronto Western, Toronto General and Princess Margaret Hospitals, is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Toronto Rehab Foundation

The Toronto Rehab Foundation at University Health Network raises funds and awareness for practical research applications, exemplary education and patient-centred care at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Through support of solutions that promote independence, skill development and active living, Toronto Rehab Foundation, thanks to the support of its generous donors is helping add years to life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Melissa McDermott
Senior Public Affairs Advisor

Toronto Rehab

University Health Network
416 597 3422, ext. 3524