Daughter and Sister Educator Writer

Rena Nikou

Rena is an educated confident woman who believes people with disabilities can achieve personal success.

After finishing high school, Rena attended college and graduated with a diploma in Social Work.

For 15 years (1991-2006), she worked and volunteered in the disability community. Her job experience includes; working as a Youth Program Coordinator at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto; an Assistant Coordinator for the Sexability Program at the Anne Johnston Health Station and as an Activities Coordinator at the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy.

Rena also volunteered as a peer trainer from the Women with Disabilities program at Springtide Resources. She co-facilitated training sessions with her peers; for front line staff at women’s shelters and crisis centers. Each presentation discussed the different forms of abuse women with disabilities can experience.

In 2007, Rena wanted to change career paths. She searched for a job that would give her the opportunity to facilitate presentations that explored the concept of independent living from a wider perspective. After job hunting for 6 months and not finding anything, this ambitious woman began developing her own educational seminars as well as content for a website. Throughout the last decade a variety of workshops had been delivered at community organizations and schools within the greater Toronto area.

As a writer, Rena shares her “lived” experiences discussing the exciting adventures she has had while traveling and speaks about the positive impact on a child’s future when she/he is taught essential life skills during the teen years.

In 2013, the very first Abilities Awards ceremony was held in Toronto. This groundbreaking event (organized by the Abilities Ministries) recognized the significant contributions people with disabilities have made to the community at large. Rena was one of the many recipients of the Abilities Award for her work as a Disability Educator.

Family Life

Rena is the eldest of 3 children and the only one living with a physical disability, Cerebral Palsy.

Growing up, Rena’s parents made sure she was a productive member of the family. They assigned her weekly household chores which included; putting away groceries and folding laundry.

Steve and Elizabeth wanted their daughter to have a positive self-image. They encouraged Rena to do well in school and pursue her dreams.

As a teenager, Rena opened a bank account and started saving money to get a place of her own. In the early 90’s, she moved into an accessible apartment, started using attendant services and was working as a Youth Program Coordinator at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto.

“Having chores to do and being expected to get good grades in school, showed me that Mom and Dad saw me as a capable person. My confidence grew and I started taking the steps to build a wonderful life for myself.”

Family is very important to Rena. She has a close relationship with her younger brothers. Their bond became stronger after losing both parents between 2003 and 2004. John and Mike turned to their big sister for guidance; trusting that Rena could provide them with emotional support during a difficult time.

“My brothers and I found the strength in each other to re-build our lives after Mom and Dad passed away. It was a blessing that our parents taught their children how to problem solve and budget finances. Learning these skills helped us become responsible adults”

Today, Rena continues to live independently and self -manages her support services.

“All my successes and challenges in life have been opportunities to grow as a human being.”