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The Summer Buzz At LiveWorkPlay

We haven’t been in touch with a new blog post since early in May, and here it is the end of July. So much has happened it has been a challenge to keep up with our communications. For those of you who are fans on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, some of this news will be familiar to you, but it’s been such a great summer, it all bears repeating!

LiveWorkPlay in the Windy City

LiveWorkPlay offers travel support so people with intellectual disabilities can enjoy spending time with other travelers and each with each other. This motor coach bus tour took place with 40 strangers – but many of them are not strangers any more! In fact, over the course of the six days, many relationships developed. Sometimes individuals or couples just found that our members were the best fit for the type of social experience they were looking for, so they decided to sit close by on the bus, offered to share a table at meals, and that sort of thing. In some cases the people we met on the bus became very attached – and vice versa – to the point that people are added on Facebook, business cards are exchanged, and plans are made to perhaps travel together again in the future!

Oh yes…and we also saw a lot of the great city of Chicago! From the Millennium Park to the Shedd Aquarium to the Lincoln Zoo we did what tourists do, but also took time to just enjoy the waterfront, and many delicious meals. But mostly this trip was about the people we met and the friends that we made! 

Engines of Success 2014

The annual recognition banquet is always a special evening, but as more than 250 people packed into St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall on June 5, there was a real buzz in the air. Perhaps it owed to the many newcomers in the room, or the anticipation from regulars who were looking forward to the celebration. Whatever the root cause, the audience enthusiasm was something to behold! In addition to recognizing all of our members, volunteers, and partners in attendance, individual and organization awards were given out as follows:

These ceremonies all had their unique moments but there is little doubt that Phil Landreville’s receipt of the first Rob More Good Life Award was a highlight of the evening. Former member Rob More died tragically in the Ottawa bus-train crash, and his family members have graciously attached his name to our annual “good life” award, which is now represented by a trophy cup in acknowledgement of Rob’s love of sports. In perfect alignment with the spirit of this award, Phil has had a remarkable year of pursuing what he wants out of life, and this includes moving to his own apartment. After a touching introduction by Mike More, Jeremy Robin was the first to leap to his feet with a standing ovation, and the room caught fire from there.

Due to time constraints award recipients did not take to the microphone themselves, but an exception was made for the Community Partner of the Year, as Michael Allen offered his comments following a rousing introduction by LiveWorkPlay board chair Cecelia Taylor. United Way Ottawa also prepared their own report about Engines of Success.

Golfing Galore!

LiveWorkPlay has been blessed with three golf tournaments in 2014, all of them involving partnerships. On June 11, the first annual Business Network International(BNI) Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec golf tournament for LiveWorkPlay raised $6235! It was a bit of a rainy day but this did not dampen spirits (or generosity). Special thanks to Jocelyne D’Aoust & Denis Brisson from BNI, the dynamic duo that kept the event flowing smoothly.

On July 27 the JMM Group (Kanata HondaStar Motors, and Dow Honda) hosted their inaugural golf day for LiveWorkPlay and raised $8000! Weather reports featured gloomy predictions, but in the end, it was a gorgeous day with one brief deluge just before dinner. The tournament was well represented by all three dealerships, with some friendly competition too. Jennifer and Ivan Harris spent the entire day on hole number one, taking photos and introducing participants to LiveWorkPlay. We also had some golfers who made their presence felt…member Nolan Peters, his father Laverne, and their two guests turned in a remarkable round of 11 under par to take home the top team award! Special thanks to Dow Honda GM Andrew Bearss for co-organizing and co-hosting the event with Keenan Wellar. Thanks also to Andrew’s daughter Taylor who raised $1000 selling bee buttons!

Next up is the Rotary Club of West Ottawa and LiveWorkPlay charity golf tournament on September 18. We are 50/50 partners this year so let’s get those registrations started and show those Rotarians our appreciation for choosing to work with us!

Diving In To Summer!

Once again, another annual pool party, and another beautiful day. Although guests arrived on June 14 at the Harris household in Stittsville wearing light jackets, once the first cannonball hit the pool, it was “everybody into the water.”


Those who chose to lounge about were not guaranteed to stay dry, as the tradition of the “cannonball ambush” was continued with Daniel Harris, Justin Godin, and Jeremy Robin working together to make it happen. Kudos to Alex Darling who did the staff team proud representing on the BBQ this year, and to Betty Harris who had things buzzing in the kitchen.

Conference Conquerors

It’s really about networking, not conquering, but since LiveWorkPlay established as a priority the need to find ways to learn and share with other people and organizations, our profile in the conference world has grown dramatically, particularly over the past three years. In June and July this took co-leaders Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar far afield. It started with being hired on behalf of LiveWorkPlay to deliver a headlining presentation and two breakout sessions at the Community Summit in Wenatchee, Washington. With about 1000 delegates, this is one of the biggest conferences of its kind, featuring names like Al Condeluci, Norman Kunc, and Emma van der Klift.

“I looked out from the stage and saw about 500 people,” says Julie. “I wasn’t sure how well the message from a small charity in a far away place in Canada would resonate, but I think we really connected. A lot of very excited people came up to us afterwards saying things like ‘This is just what I wanted to hear! I have always believed these same things and I needed to hear it from people who are actually making it happen.’ It felt great getting that feedback!”

Next Keenan and Julie met up with Jennifer Bosworth, Manager of Employment Supports at the Association for People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE) conference in Long Beach, California. Also one of the most important conferences of its kind, LiveWorkPlay delivered a total of three presentations. Not surprisingly, the session focused on our employment strategies drew the most enthusiastic audience –standing room only! Jen received many follow-ups from across North America, particularly from those who are anxious to positively abandon institutional activities like sheltered workshops and day programs and replace them with support for employment and other community-based activities.


While in town Jen also had the opportunity to write the Certified Employment Support Professional Exam. Despite a few questions that were focused on US law (there is no similar certification currently available in Canada) Jen received her CESP certification!

Back in Ottawa, LiveWorkPlay was a presence at the International Summit on Accessibility. Jen organized a local panel of employers (Vaughn McKinney from Parliament Cleaning Group, Andrew Bearss from Dow Honda, and Blair Organ from TD) to participate in a session hosted by Mark Wafer (Tim Hortons) and Joe Dale (Ontario Disability Employment Network). Keenan delivered a powerful TED-style presentation as part of a session on best practices.

While these moments in the spotlight help spread the word about LiveWorkPlay and our vision for more inclusive communities, these conferences are also tremendous learning opportunities.

“It’s a great way to challenge ourselves,” says Keenan. “Why did we move beyond our own day program and sheltered workshops? Because we learned from others that there were better ways. In 2015 and beyond, our mission and vision are unlikely to change because they are somewhat timeless, but there are always ways to get better at what we do, and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. The world is full of creative and brilliant people who are already leading the way, and just like our culture at LiveWorkPlay, they are ready and willing to share what they know.”

Select Committee Report

The long-awaited Legislature of Ontario Report of the Select Committee on Developmental Services has been released. Among the findings of the report was this important statement:

The Committee recognizes that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to  providing developmental services; rather, individuals have the right to appropriate  support to chart their own paths in all areas of their lives. This person-centered  approach recognizes the basic principles of self-determination and social  inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.

To achieve this, we believe that there should be a fundamental shift in the way  that support is offered to people with developmental disabilities. Rather than the  current approach of forcing people to choose from a limited slate of options  available through direct funding and agency-based support, we believe that every  person should be entitled to an individualized life plan customized to meet their specific needs.

At LiveWorkPlay we believe that is exactly what we are attempting to deliver, day in and day out, although we caution that a “life plan” for a person with an intellectual disability should be conceived in the same way that it is for other citizens: as we move through our lives, plans change. The supports provided to people must therefore be designed with some flexibility in mind. Getting a job or an apartment, developing a romantic relationship, and other life milestones that all citizens experience, can dramatically alter our view or ourselves and our view of the world.

You can read the LiveWorkPlay submission to the Select Committee here. We note that the recommendations do call for increased measurement of the types of outcomes mentioned in our submission. As it is apparent that we are moving towards a system of increased individualized funding, it will be important to make sure that this results in greater access to resources that promote inclusion, rather than the growth of segregated infrastructure.

Welcome New Board Members

They’ve been participating for several months and have completed a series of governance training workshops, and as of July 17, Jim Carter and Cathy Velasquez were officially welcomed to the board. Having filled two current vacancies, they plan to stand for election at the Annual General Meeting on September 19 along with other candidates.

What does a retired director/comptroller from the Department of National Defense (Jim) have in common with a communications/public relations professional (Cathy) at TD Bank?

Well, for one thing, they’ve both spent some time celebrating Cooper Gage in recent months. Jim knows Cooper from his life in the Running Room community (but his regular LiveWorkPlay running mate is Chris Jones), and Cathy knows Cooper as a TD employee who also does public speaking and advocacy for the employment of people with disabilities. Cathy and Cooper presented at United Way Ottawa in February.

A lot of people know Cooper Gage, especially if they read Running Room magazine!Check him out in the latest edition!

Too Much To Report

You might be wondering what is going on with member news – people moving to new apartments, getting jobs, and joining clubs, courses, and classes. We have to be perfectly honest, there is just too much news to cover. We report on these items on a daily basis in our Facebook group. Shelby wrote a test for adult high school and got a fantastic score. Bot and Fred started working for the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group (including RedBlacks games). Scott is in the process of moving to his first apartment.

The summer jobs initiative is rocking and rolling with 15 youth at work. Spencer has started a paper route and is looking for more. Ryan N started a new job that he found by himself. There were several outings to Bluesfest and other festivals around the city as well as the Parliament Hill sound and lights show, comedy shows, and more. Phil is learning to ride a bike. Kevin is volunteering in the office of a local politician. Melanie (right) is working at Tim Hortons. Justin hosted a games night. Brodie hosted a potluck. That’s just a taste of what is going on in the lives of some of our members!

In the world of volunteering, they continue to knock on our door, and although we have had great success using online recruitment through Volunteer Ottawa, Volunteer Coordinator Alex Darlings is also having success with old school methods – like bulletin boards in coffee shops. But how about this for a jolt of energy: now there are volunteers who are volunteering to put up our volunteer advertising! Cool!

Keep In Touch!

Keeping up to date with LiveWorkPlay is easy. You can watch our news page at, or follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn! Looking to donate? Look no further! Full staff team contact information is available here. We recently passed 6000 followers on Twitter, and we are closing in on 2000 fans on Facebook. Thank you for your support!