Shanae Webb says the Paul C.J. LeBlanc Memorial Bursary she recently received has helped with one of the biggest challenges she faces as a student – keeping a roof over her head.
Shanae, 26, is in the final months of her B.A. at St. Thomas University, majoring in sociology and minoring in English literature. In addition to a heavy study load, she also is dealing with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder in which muscles contract involuntarily, causing repetitive or twisting movements.
“Messages from my brain to my muscles misfire,” she says. “My muscles aren’t working properly so I have spasms all the time and tremors. There’s a lot of pain and insomnia and there is no cure. It has affected my ability to take care of myself.”
Ability New Brunswick awarded Shanae one of two Paul C.J. LeBlanc Memorial Bursaries, each worth $1,000. The awards are for young people living with a mobility disability who are entering or returning to a post-secondary education program in 2021-2022.
Ability New Brunswick recognizes that too often there are barriers for students with a mobility disability when entering post-secondary education programs. The goal of the Paul C.J. LeBlanc Memorial Bursary is to alleviate at least some of the financial burden students face.
The bursaries are in memory of Paul C.J. LeBlanc, a passionate advocate for persons with a disability in New Brunswick who died in 2021. He believed all students should have the opportunity for education.
“The bursary has helped tide me over because I haven’t been able to work full time,” Shanae says. “It has helped me pay my bills and keep a roof over my head.”
In addition to helping with her living costs, Shanae has used some of the money to pay for acupuncture treatments, which provide a measure of relief from pain.
Shanae said that Ability New Brunswick also has been a huge help in advocating for rent subsidies and providing other assistance, including a mental health support team. She is still at risk of homelessness, she says.
“That is my biggest concern.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the Paul C.J. Memorial Bursary can donate at https://www.abilitynb.ca/donate/ and note in the message that the gift is for the bursary.