About Us

Our Mission

NextStep, a nationally recognized non-profit organization, believes that all persons living with paralysis and other physical disabilities deserve the hope and opportunity to live long and healthy lives. Yet today most of these individuals are deprived of the resources they desperately need for survival because there are no options available to them or they cannot afford them. NextStep provides the opportunity for health and recovery through affordable and progressive community fitness, health, and wellness facilities.

NextStep is a nationwide movement that aims to revolutionize the quality of healthcare for the physically challenged community. NextStep has paved the way with the first community facility in the U.S. to offer Locomotor and activity based training at its state of the art facility in Los Angeles and continues its vision to expand across the United States. The organization’s other initiatives are participation in cutting edge research, education, and awareness programs that are focused on enhancing the lives of the 6 million people in the U.S. living with paralysis.

NextStep is a proud member of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) Community Fitness and Wellness (CFW) Program.

Founder's Story

In August 2006, Janne Kouri's life changed in a split second. An avid athlete, Janne was participating in a beach volleyball tournament. Between matches he decided to take dip in the ocean to cool off. Like so many times before, Janne ran into the water and dove through a wave. But, it was not like every other time - under the wave this time was a sand bar. Janne hit his head on that sand bar and fractured his C5 & C6 vertebrae. In an instant, he was paralyzed from the neck down. The next thing he remembers is being told by his doctors he has no hope for recovery and he will never walk again. But the real shock was when he was told that there was not a single progressive rehab center in the state of Califronia. After two months in ICU, in order to get the rehab services he so desperately needed for survival, he had to move 2000 miles away to Louisville, KY.

 Janne, and his new wife Susan, traveled to Frazier Rehab in Lousiville to participate in a cutting edge rehabilitation therapy for individuals with Spinal Cord Injury called "Locomotor Training." For twelve months Janne and Susan lived in Louisville, and under the watchful eye of his therapy team, saw great improvements in his muscle strength, movement, and general health.  Unfortunately, his insurance coverage came to an end and it was time to move back home to California. Janne quickly discovered there was not a single community facility in California or in the US that offered locomotor training. He discovered that there is a complete lack of community fitness, health, and wellness resources available to the 6 Million people with paralysis-related disabilities in America. 6 Million people, that is the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He wondered what everyone else like him was doing.  So, with the help of his family, friends, and the guiding influence of Dr. Susie Harkema - one of the neuroscientists who created Locomotor Training & enhanced Activity Based Therapy techniques, Janne and Susan decided to start NextStep.