Astrid Koenig, the executive director of the Community Living BC service provider, Building Bridges Community Support, is being recognized today with a Widening Our World (WOW) award for her 40 years of work to create more accessible and inclusive communities for people with diverse abilities.
In her nomination, self advocate Robyn Appleton acknowledges Astrid for supporting her to organize the group, Sooke Self Advocacy, where people come together to talk about issues, learn about their rights, fundraise, do community activities, and help to educate others about inclusion. Astrid is also being recognized for her dedication to inclusion of people with diverse abilities of all ages, and for making sure individuals and families are connected to community resources that meet their needs.
Community Living BC (CLBC) received 40 nominations for its eighth annual awards; the winners were chosen by an evaluation committee of community members, CLBC staff and individuals served by CLBC. In March, three other WOW Awards will be presented 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
- Kamloops – Ronnie Bouvier for creating first time employment for young adults while raising public awareness of the contributions they can make to their communities
- Smithers – Chris Morsund, Chatters Pizzeria and Bistro, for his 15 year commitment to hiring inclusively and setting an example for other small businesses to follow
Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize British Columbians 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.
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
“Congratulations to Astrid Koenig on receiving a 2016 WOW award, and for her clear commitment to helping create welcoming communities that provide many opportunities for everyone. Inclusion is a collaborative effort and I thank her 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
“Astrid’s vision of an inclusive community is the kind of British Columbia that our government continues to work towards: diverse and vibrant communities in which everyone is valued for their own unique abilities. I want to not only congratulate Astrid on this award but also thank her for dedicating 40 years to working towards a better British Columbia.”
Robyn Appleton, Self Advocate
“Astrid lives by what she believes in and celebrates the successes of the people she works with. Our self advocacy group, Sooke Self Advocacy, gets us out in the community together where we feel like we are part of something special and have opportunities to try new things. It also helps the community see how people with diverse abilities can be active in, and contribute to, the community.”
Astrid Koenig, Executive Director, Building Bridges Community Support, WOW Award Winner
“Being a part of a community is very important to me. It gives me a sense of belonging, friendships, and adventures, and supporting me to learn many new skills. Over the past 40 years, I have shared this sense of community with many people with diverse abilities. I have learned so much from everyone who has come into my life and truly believe our society, as a whole can benefit, by celebrating diversity rather than just tolerating it. One of my favourite quotes is from Michael Pritchard: “One of the great things any community can do is not teach tolerance, but live tolerance; not talk respect, but live life inclusively.”