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What A Night! LiveWorkPlay Celebrates Community, Community Celebrates LiveWorkPlay!

CBA-COLLAGE-YOUTUBE-VIDEOIt was one of those nights that will surely require notation in our historical record! As LiveWorkPlay was hosting the 8th annual Engines of Success recognition event at St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall, the United Way Ottawa Community Builder Gala was taking place at the Ottawa Convention Centre, with a Community Builder of the Year award being presented to LiveWorkPlay for Belonging to Community! It was a logistical challenge and certainly a happy problem.

How did it play out? Click here! Using a Skype connection, the United Way proceedings were shown on the screen at Engines of Success (surprising everyone in attendance) as co-leaders Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Back at St. Anthony’s, Allison Moores ran a masterful agenda that featured both informal and formal recognition for members, volunteers, community partners, family members, staff, and board members. This year’s award presentations seemed to generate a level excitement rivaled only by the original 10th year anniversary edition of Engines of Success in 2005. Here are the winners!

You can watch all of the live Engines of Success award presentations and recognition ceremonies and below you can read a written version of the presentation by MC Lucy van Oldenbarneveld (CBC) and Julie and Keenan’s acceptance speech for the Community Builder of the Year Award:

LiveWorkPlay is the recipient of the United Way Ottawa Community Builder of the Year Award for Belonging To Community!

The Community Builder Award for Belonging to Community recognizes a person or organization that is focused on helping people who want to play a more active role in our community – but who need a bit of help to get there.

This year’s winner is an organization that is working toward their vision of a community where everyone belongs.

By partnering with government, business and community agencies they are not only helping people with intellectual disabilities overcome barriers, but are helping the community understand their role in ending exclusion and giving them the chance to put their skills to work.

How do they do this?

By being a voice for change when it comes to programs and supports for people with disabilities. They welcome a future where we don’t keep people with disabilities on the sidelines, but give them a chance to get in the game – to find a job, to make friends to have what everyone wants – a good life.

Tonight’s recipient works to create opportunities and experiences that ensure that people with disabilities in our community are living life to the fullest by helping them get access to many things that we take for granted:

– Homes, health care, education, personal dignity, and personal privacy

– Paid work at minimum wage or better, short-term unpaid work, and volunteer positions

– Having a bank account, keys to a home of their own, and a membership at their local gym

– Cultural and spiritual life, sports and recreation, political life, and;

– Like all of us, they want to meet that special someone, and fall in love

Because of the work of organizations like tonight’s recipient, people with intellectual disabilities in our community are more as likely to have their own home, involvement in their community, or a paid job than – by way of example, they are more than twice as likely to be employed.

Their ability to attract resources and passionate community leaders to its cause, engage other organizations and workplaces, navigate social media, and champion possibilities in other communities is inspiring, but the true measure of their success can be seen in the lives that they touch every day.

Please take a look at the screens…and meet Vaughn and Jeremy:

We ask that Vaughn and Jeremy help present the Community Builder of the Year Award for Belonging to Community to LiveWorkPlay, represented by co-leaders Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar.

Thank you so much for this honour. I want to quickly thank Innovapost, the award sponsor, our nominator Felice Miranda, here with us tonight, as well as two of our long-serving past-presidents, David Kingstone and Wendy Mitchell and of course Vaughn and Jeremy. And a huge thank you to the 250 LiveWorkPlay supporters who are listening in via Skype – volunteers, family members, community partners, the staff team, and of course the 100 or so individuals that trust us to be a part of their lives.

Julie and I started LiveWorkPlay 18 years ago because we had our eyes opened to an injustice in our community and we were driven to do something about it. It is thanks to countless allies from all walks of life, that we are here to accept this wonderful award.

There are many marginalized populations in our community, and people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are among those who are the least included in community life. Sadly, the divide these individuals and their families experience is mostly one that we have created by thinking and practices that often reinforce the separation of people with intellectual disabilities from other citizens.

For example, we have created many specialized disability-only environments – for learning, living, working, and even recreation. These are well-intentioned endeavours intended to solve the problems that occur when people are not experiencing a welcoming community. But we believe the citizens of Ottawa are more than ready to move beyond this way of thinking. We can and will find ways to learn, live, work, and play together.

Our mission at LiveWorkPlay is all about Belonging to Community and we are thrilled to accept an award that so precisely calls attention to the change we are trying to create. So what does this change really mean? What does it look like? How does it happen?

With your help, I think we can explain this in less than a minute. Please welcome Julie to help lead the exercise.

Thank you everyone, and please don’t be shy, I am just looking for a response to three simple requests. Ready, here we go!

Request #1: Please raise a hand if you have ever received help or offered help to a neighbour. If you have ever received help or offered help to a neighbour, please raise a hand, and keep that hand up.

Request #2: Raise a hand if you have ever received help or helped a friend, colleague, or family member to get a job or to get a better job. Please keep that hand up too. If you have both hands up, that’s OK, please keep them up.

Request #3: If you are now out of hands because you’ve already answered yes twice, then please stand up – of if you need to remain seated, raise a glass – if you have ever made a friend by joining a team, club, course, or other community activity.

Please stand and remain standing if you have answered yes to all three of my requests.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen! You have just helped prove that the citizens of Ottawa have all the skills and experience needed to be a welcoming community.

If we collectively extend that welcoming spirit to marginalized citizens, including people with intellectual disabilities, the resulting growth in the diversity of our neighbourhoods and workplaces will make our great city all the more stronger.

In conclusion, we thank United Way Ottawa for this opportunity, and we thank all of you for your support of a city where we share in our similarities, celebrate our differences, and together build and Ottawa community where truly, everyone belongs. Thank you.