Older woman living with an episodic disability

Realize

About

Realize is the leading national, charitable organization in Canada working to improve the health and wellbeing of people living and aging with HIV and other episodic disabilities (including disabilities related to long-COVID, MS, arthritis, chronic pain, and many other conditions) through integrated research, education, policy, and practice.

Founded in 1998, Realize emerged from a national dialogue amongst people living with HIV, community-based HIV organizations, government policymakers, teachers, researchers, rehabilitation professionals and other health care providers concerned about gaps in Canada’s HIV response, the impact of those gaps on the quality of people’s lives, and the role that rehabilitation supports could play in improving people’s health outcomes. Our work on disability grew logically out of our HIV and wellness roots and the expertise and lived experience of our members and partners.

Today, our work fosters and strengthens partnerships across clinical, research, community, and policy domains, advances education on evidence-informed rehabilitation interventions and models of service delivery and promotes social inclusion and financial security for people living with episodic disabilities. Realize is the convening organization for the Episodic Disabilities Forum — a forum of national disability organizations, federal policymakers, and researchers. We also host the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee on HIV and Aging. These national collaborations have wide-ranging impact across the HIV, disability, and aging sectors, fostering positive change for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities.

The perspectives of our Board, members, and partners with lived experience at the intersections of HIV, disability, age, sexual identity, gender, and race inform our work and have led Realize to develop an expanded framework for fostering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We call it IDEAL: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Leading to Belongingwww.realizecanada.org

Our Impact

We work with

  • People living with HIV and other episodic disabilities to improve awareness and access to rehabilitation programs and services
  • Community based HIV organizations to explore how rehabilitation and age and disability appropriate supports can be integrated into the programs and services they provide
  • The aging sector to respond to new challenges for care, treatment, and support of older adults living with HIV
  • Other health and disability groups (e.g., arthritis, mental health, multiple sclerosis) to identify common challenges, coordinate strategies for change in public policy and to ensure that appropriate sexual health and HIV information and services are available to people living with disabilities
  • Employers to create organizational cultures that value people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities and the contributions they can make in the workplace
  • Governments to improve legislation effecting people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities
  • Researchers and educators to train clinicians and students to identify priorities and emerging issues for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities and undertake research
  • International organizations to share best practices with our counterparts from other countries, as well as to learn from them.

See what your legacy could be

Talk to Realize about a legacy gift

Legal Name

Realize

Charity Number

85699 5535 RR0001

How your gift will be used

Our work is driven by people living and aging with HIV and other episodic disabilities, their experiences and challenges, and the changes they have identified that would improve their health and wellbeing. The following “hopes” are drawn directly from community participants in recent Realize consultations and events.

Your gift will help transform these hopes to action.

“quality of life, not just meds • sexual health and HIV supports for older adults and people with disabilities • action to combat stigma, discrimination • inclusive and equitable spaces and services • move beyond a clinical health focus • help train management about episodic disabilities • trauma-informed education on disabilities for business leaders • businesses learn from how accommodations worked during COVID • dialogues to change short term and long term disability coverage  • action plan on income security and workforce participation for people living with disabilities •  networking across episodic disability groups for greater impact • tools to advocate for myself and take charge of my care as I age with HIV • community-based aging programs accommodate the unique needs of people living with HIV • sound policy decisions related to mental health and aging with HIV • spark conversations that are hard to have, or people may not have thought of before”

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