With the month of February starting, I decided to take the time to look back on the year that has just passed and present what is coming for Kartus in 2021. Our situation is not different than from everywhere around us : it has been a long and difficult year. Canceled events, slow sales and our users who find themselves more isolated than ever! At least, more than ever, people have realized the benefits of being outdoors and the importance of human connection(s). However, I think that, collectively, we will be more sensitive to the reality of people living in isolation in the future.
Here at Kartus, we are staying the course with our different projects. We have continued to manufacture and deliver our wheelchairs around the world, in addition to working on projects that will improve our offer and our reach. Here is a little retrospective of 2020 and what we foresee for 2021.
2020: a brief review
The year 2020 will have been marked by the sale of our wheelchairs to families (individuals), more precisely parents of children with disabilities. Remember that in this context, these children can be between 5 and 30 years of age, or even more. Several sales had been made outside Quebec in the past, and we can now count on a good pool of buyers around the world. Most of our sales have been made elsewhere in Canada, in the United States, and there is now a strong interest in ... New Zealand! The purchase was made for a runner in remission from cancer, and the buyer also intends to share it with veterans.
The year has been rich in terms of honors, with the obtention of the honorary grant from the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation, the adoption by Desjardins and Gerald, my mentor, thanks to Adopte Inc. and obtaining the business excellence award from the Association Québécoise des Loisirs Municipal. We are and always will be very honored to be acknowledged in this way. What's more, I see it as a nice sign of interest in people with reduced mobility. People do care.
There was also the filming of three video clips produced by La Raffinerie, a Quebec production company, which made it possible to capture what Kartus is, what are the shared races and the community that nourishes the project. We are very proud of the work accomplished. Lots of preparation, a very early morning scene shot at Le Massif de Charlevoix (with lots of coffee), a drone, and Danielle's contagious smile. Stay tuned for the capsules that will be released this year.
It already seems a long way off, but it was last summer that Sébastien Roulier and Samuel Camirand achieved the feat of completing the 100 km MRSQ course, finishing at the top of Mount Royal. It took the team 13 hours to cross the finish line. All the paperwork has been submitted to the Guinness Records for homologation. What an achievement!
2021 : what to expect
We are working on several subsystems to improve the experience with the Kartus chairs. Among other things, we are developing a more intuitive and faster backrest closing system. This modification will allow the integration of side panels that will include fenders to limit dirt and provide support for the arms. A similar system will also be available for current owners; we are finalizing the prototypes. A more robust spring system at the front is also in development. The purchase of a 3D printer will help us speed up our design / production process.
As for shared races, several initiatives are underway. Soon, people in the cities of Montreal and Lévis will also be able to take advantage of this enriching activity. You can follow our social media (and theirs) for all the news on this subject!
Some institutions have started to show interest in including Kartus chairs in their establishments. This is encouraging, because there is often a gap between the intentions expressed by those and the actions taken when it comes to improving the offer for people with reduced mobility. We continue to spread our message that these users have the right to have access to outdoor activities and this offer should not be limited exclusively to those who have the ability to be autonomous. But as the saying goes: “Rome was not built in a day”.
Several long term care homes (CHSLDs) have also added Kartus to their leisure offer and we regularly receive positive testimonials about the happiness that Kartus outings provide. The workers and volunteers at the source of this novelty always impress us with the concern they have for their residents. A pilot project will take shape this spring in two retirement homes (RPA) and we can't wait to share it with you! Hopefully, this will encourage other RPAs to follow suit.
A Final Word
The pandemic has forced an interruption in our hectic pace of life and has helped isolate us from each other (physically and virtually). More than ever, we are aware of the importance of our or others mental health. More than ever, we see the importance of being outdoors, of being active. When we get back to our “new” normal, why not take this opportunity to do things differently, better? Kartus' primary mission is to make the outdoors accessible and to offer a stimulating activity that helps to break isolation. But even more, our intention is to contribute into making our society evolve towards a more just and inclusive one. And consideration of people with reduced mobility, whether in terms of inclusion or the opportunities offered to them, is at the heart of this project (that of a more just and inclusive society). A multitude of actors are already campaigning for such a change and, collectively, we can do more to support them too.
Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and others.