Local resident and champion of inclusion Ronnie Bouvier is being recognized today with a Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) Widening Our World (WOW) award for her exceptional contribution in creating first-time employment for young adults with developmental disabilities and raising public awareness of the contributions they can make to their communities.
Ronnie was nominated for a WOW award by Kamloops city counsellor Marg Spina, and is one of four British Columbians receiving the award this year. Ronnie is the executive director of the Kamloops Graffiti Task Force, a non-profit society that provides graffiti clean-up on city properties and parks. Ronnie was interested in employing young adults with diverse abilities and with the help of a grant from BC Hydro she was able to create paid work for young adults with developmental disabilities. Ronnie spoke with CLBC service provider, Open Door Group, to find interested young people and spent many hours training, supporting, and talking to caregivers and parents to ensure that her new employees would be successful. Ronnie’s team helps keep Kamloops beautiful and they get to experience the satisfaction of doing exactly what their peers are doing, for the same pay.
Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize individuals who are helping to build community inclusion for the people CLBC serves. The 2016 nomination process invited British Columbians to nominate someone they think is creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead full lives, have rich relationships, choices in how they live, and employment opportunities. CLBC received 40 nominations for its eighth annual awards process; winners were chosen by an evaluation committee of community members, CLBC staff, and individuals served by CLBC.
Three other WOW Awards will be presented in March to deserving recipients:
- Gibsons – Brian Smith, CEO and founder of Persephone Brewing Company, for his grassroots efforts to build inclusion and create jobs for the people CLBC serves
- Sooke – Astrid Koenig for her tireless efforts to ensure self advocates have opportunities for employment, education and community connection
- Smithers – Chris Morsund, co-owner of Chatters Pizzeria and Bistro, for their 15 year commitment to hiring inclusively and setting an example for other small businesses to follow
Nominations of inclusion champions were submitted throughout Community Living Month in October 2016. This year’s awards requested each nomination include a photo reflecting the nominee’s inclusion efforts. To see the photos submitted, or for more information about the WOW Awards visit www.communitylivingbc.ca/wow. To learn more about Community Living BC, visit www.communitylivingbc.ca.
Seonag Macrae, CLBC CEO
“I want to congratulate Ronnie for being recognized with a WOW Award. Ronnie exemplifies CLBC’s vision of; lives filled with possibility, communities full of opportunity. With the jobs she has created, her staff are learning new skills and building confidence while having pride in doing valuable work for their city. Inclusion is a collaborative effort and I thank Ronnie and all our other winners and nominees for the work they do each and every day to help the people CLBC serves be recognized for their abilities, their strengths and their contributions.”
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell
“Ronnie Bouvier is an exemplary citizen who shows us all what’s possible when we put our minds to creating more inclusive communities and businesses. I congratulate Ronnie for receiving the honour of a WOW Award and thank her for her important work employing local young adults with developmental disabilities.”
Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar
“I was proud to hear someone from Kamloops has won a WOW CLBC award. These awards highlight the great work taking place around diversity, inclusion, and citizenship both in Kamloops, and throughout BC. I am honoured to congratulate Ronnie for winning a provincial WOW Award. Thank you for setting an example for other community members, for seeing people’s potential, and for demonstrating how much richer our communities are when they are diverse.”
Marg Spina, Nominator
“Ronnie felt strongly that these young adults deserved the opportunity to serve their community, just like anyone else, and to be paid for their work. None of the young adults had ever had a pay check before – and this work has boosted their confidence, given them the pride and dignity of working along side university students, who found fellowship and camaraderie with the new graffiti team.”
Ronnie Bouvier, WOW Award Winner
“I am honoured to be recognized with a WOW Award and am so proud of my team. They are real ambassadors for this community and work hard to make it beautiful. I’m also grateful for the support of BC Hydro, Open Door Group and community members like Marg Spina. They understand that inclusion takes a commitment not only to the principles of diversity and equality but to the belief that each of us has a right to contribute to the world of work in the best way we can. I love my job and I wanted to make sure that others had the same opportunity to go to a job they love, too. I am so lucky to have each of my staff working alongside me.”