Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 COD-NL Inclusion Awards

Each year, the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – Newfoundland and Labrador presents four Inclusion Awards at their Annual General Meeting, to highlight the important work being done by community champions across the province.

The Inclusion Awards acknowledge the outstanding achievements of business, organizations, individuals and media, who have clearly demonstrated their commitment to encourage, welcome, and support persons with disabilities in their workplace, businesses and community.
This year’s recipients included:
  • City Tire & Auto – Inclusion Award (Business). Sponsored by: Hebron
  • Workplace NL – Inclusion Award (Organization). Sponsored by: Metrobus
  • Edward Sawdon – Inclusion Award (Individual). Sponsored by: Newfoundland Power
  • Julie Brocklehurst – Inclusion Award (Media). Sponsored by: Ellsworth Estates
I am so thrilled and honoured to receive this prestigious award!

The following is taken from

The Inclusion Award for Organization / Agency recognizes an organization or agency for outstanding efforts to advance and support inclusion in our province. This organization or agency champions inclusion and accessibility, going above and beyond for consumers with disabilities and having far-reaching, lasting impact. An organization who strives for fully inclusive service delivery to meet the needs of persons with disabilities are saluted by this honour each year.

"This year, the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities and our sponsor, Metrobus Transit, would like to recognize the admirable work of WorkplaceNL.

WorkplaceNL was nominated for this award because of the agency’s strong commitment to ensuring access and inclusion for visitors, clients and staff at WorkplaceNL locations in the province. 

WorkplaceNL participated in an accessibility audit of their locations on the island (St. John’s, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook) and worked with COD-NL to authentically identify the current level of accessibility. The WorkplaceNL team provided access to the physical buildings used by the agency as well as to documents and website materials to ensure COD-NL staff were able to gain an accurate portrait of the agency.

The intention of the agency to be fully accessible and inclusive was clearly demonstrated as audit personnel were permitted access to all areas of the building and staff with specific concerns were encouraged to speak in confidence to the audit team.

Previous to the audit, WorkplaceNL demonstrated intention and willingness to go beyond minimum standards of access. One example of this commitment is evident in the installation of an emergency exit chair to be used to enable safe emergency exit from the upper level of the building of a current employee who uses a wheelchair. Staff and management have had training in its use and WorkplaceNL has further committed to respecting the principles of Universal Design in future procurement.

This procurement extends from the purchase of adjustable desks and interior way-finding systems to the consideration and inclusion of Universal Design features in building lease opportunities.  By implementing changes that are guided by the principles of Universal Design best practices of inclusion is being assured.

For these reasons and many more, the adjudication committee whole-heartedly selected WorkplaceNL as the successful recipient of the 2017 Inclusion Award for an Organization."

The Inclusion Award for Business recognizes the efforts of a local business to advance the principles of inclusion for persons with disabilities in the workplace through support and best practices (such as inclusive hiring practices and inclusive training, to name but a few). Businesses play an active role in creating meaningful and more inclusive communities for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when they advocate for and include persons with disabilities.

"This year the Coalition, along with our award sponsor, Hebron, would like to present City Tire & Auto (Topsail Road location) with this recognition.

City Tire & Auto Centre Ltd – located on Topsail Road, Mount Pearl – was nominated for the 2017 Inclusion Award for a Business. City Tire & Auto has gone above and beyond to show strong support for Visions Employment Plus Inc. and ongoing efforts to be an inclusive business employer. Jordan Blackwood, Director of Marketing with City Tire & Auto Centre Ltd. reached out to Visions Employment in 2014 to express an interest in hiring a client for an Auto Detailing position they had available.

He contacted Visions Employment to find out information about the Visions Employment program and how they could work together to help a client be more successful at City Tire. They went through the interview process with a few of Visions’ clients and then offered the opportunity to a client who has an intellectual disability. This particular client is an older individual who is unable to read or write and has a speech impediment but City Tire was more than willing and more than happy to work with him and provide any accommodations that might be needed.

It was later determined that the Auto Detailing may not be the most suitable position for this client as despite the support of a job coach through Visions Employment he had difficulty completing the required duties. Rather than terminating the client from City Tire, they instead found another position for him within City Tire that turned out to be a perfect fit! City Tire and their employees have been nothing but welcoming and supportive toward this individual and many can attest to how much City Tire love having him be a part of their team – and in turn, how much he enjoys and values his work in such an inclusive environment.

City Tire was thrilled with the result and encourages other employers to participate in such inclusive practices, which not only benefit an individual but businesses and the community as well. It was clear to the adjudication committee that City Tire truly understands what it means to be an inclusive employer and to work collaboratively with other businesses to foster a spirit of inclusiveness and openness. For this, City Tire & Auto was the obvious choice for the 2017 Inclusion Award for a Business."

The Inclusion Award for Individual recognizes the outstanding efforts of an individual who actively strives for the advancement of disability rights in our communities. This person is a champion for persons with disabilities and has a strong passion for accessibility and inclusion, which is highlighted by their community involvement and personal efforts.

The recipient for this year's award was Edward Sawdon.

"Since moving to Newfoundland & Labrador, Edward Sawdon has been involved as a member and volunteer with the Independent Living Resource Centre (now Empower), the St. John’s Ostomy Chapter, CHANNAL (the Consumers Health Awareness Network – Newfoundland & Labrador), CMHA-NL(the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland & Labrador), the Pottle Centre and the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD). Since 2003, Ed has been advocating for a national pharmacare program and improved mental healthcare and disability-related services. While Ed was CHANNAL Regional Coordinator for St. John’s Region for four years between 2004-2010, he was also the CHANNAL representative on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the Provincial Legislative Stakeholder Committee on the New Mental Health and Treatment Act and Patient’s Rights Adviser Committee and the CSC’s Vibrant Communities/Citizen’s Voice.

Within the former Independent Living Resource Centre, and now, Empower, Ed has been a long-time volunteer contributor to the Black Spruce Newsletter and member of both the Men’s & Women’s Group and has participated in the Empower Dinner Club. Ed is currently on the Board of Directors of CMHA-NL and the Pottle Centre. Finally, he has received nine awards in the disability community, including The James Fardy CHANNAL Outstanding Volunteer Award, the Cecilia Carroll Award for Independent Living, the CMHA National Consumer Involvement Award and the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Clearly, Ed Sawdon was a natural choice for the 2017 Inclusion Award for an Individual."

The Inclusion Award for Excellence in Disability Media Coverage acknowledges a member of the media or a creator of a media source who has clearly demonstrated their professional commitment to encourage, welcome and support persons with disabilities by ensuring a balanced, dignified and respectful portrayal of disability issues and persons with disabilities in the media.

"This award has been sponsored by Ellsworth Estates and we are very pleased to present this award to Julie Brocklehurst for her resource development and promotion of disability awareness through her chosen form of media: an outstanding blog called “Tiptoeing Through.”

Not only does the depth and scope of the blog explore inclusion and accessibility in our province, it continuously exposes readers to a level of normalcy and awareness that isn’t often expressed in mainstream media outlets. Tiptoeing Through goes from posts promoting films like Move for Inclusion—which was a nationwide fundraising effort to spread the message of inclusion and the importance of acceptance without bias–to sharing deeply personal stories about herself and her family’s life with a child with complex disabilities.

By exposing the public to such varied and intimate but also broad societal messages, through her blog, Julie creates a strong position to break down barriers, fears and stigmas associated with having a child with disabilities. Tiptoeing Through not only focuses on the personal stories that many blogs feature, it  ensures balanced messaging and exposure to bigger issues around inclusion including The Mayor’s Challenge—a call to action by Sarnia, Ontario’s Mayor Mike Bradley to the mayors in our province of Newfoundland and Labrador to hire persons with disabilities and promote an inclusive workforce.

Tiptoeing Through is not only a strong resource for parents with children who have disabilities, it’s also a great source of information around the latest technological advancements that work for children with lived experience with disabilities. Julie’s posts provide thoughtful and balanced information useful to many – for example, her post on AbleNet, a communication technology that provides assistive technology solutions to help individuals with disabilities lead productive and fulfilling lives, or her web article about Our City’s Most Accessible Hotel.

Tiptoeing Through acts as a resource to break down stigma and promote fully inclusive communities while highlighting relevant information for not only persons with disabilities, but for everyone by creating feature stories on how to celebrate and live your life — whether it’s having a family picnic, going for a hike or flying a kite.

The past fall Tiptoeing through featured The Teal Pumpkin Project which is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters. Though the project was initially intended to benefit those with food allergies, Julie’s post expanded the meaning of the project to also apply to individuals and children dealing with other intolerances, sensitivities and disorders that limit what they can consume. The Teal Pumpkin Project is about promoting a trick or treating experience that doesn’t limit anyone.

From quality of life resources for persons with disabilities to sharing events like International Day of Persons with Disabilities, if there is a timely topic to raise awareness for or celebrate persons with disabilities, Julie’s blog is on it. Not only that, the information featured can be easily found online by others seeking such useful resources and links.

Through her site, Julie shows us that promoting, sharing and celebrating stories and moments in the lives of persons with disabilities needs to be constant and continuous for true and full inclusion. It is no wonder that we have awarded the Inclusion Award for Media to Tiptoeing Through this year!"

This is such an honour for me, and I am extremely grateful. I started my blog several years ago as a place to share my own personal experience raising a child with a disability, and I have since been fortunate to be able to share the stories of many other families in situations like mine. I am thrilled to know that people are reading, and that people have been touched by these stories. Receiving this award and being acknowledged in this way reaffirms for me that our stories do matter, and sharing them can have a positive impact on the way people perceive individuals with disabilities. I am happy to be able to do what I do, and I hope you will all keep reading!

Congratulations to all 2017 Inclusion Award winners!

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