Powell River resident Chris Weekes is being recognized today with a Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) Widening Our World (WOW) award for his exceptional contribution to supporting people with diverse abilities to lead good lives, have rich relationships and choices in how they live work and play.
Chris was nominated for the WOW award by Lesley Thorsell, Inclusion Powell River, for his work to help people develop social networks through music; he is one of five British Columbians receiving the award. Chris is a talented musician who leads weekly drumming circles where he supplies drums and invites everyone to participate. In winter, the circles are held at the Jean Pike Centre for Community Inclusion, and in the summer at the Powell River ferry dock where a larger audience can participate. Chris is also currently involved in setting up the ARC Community Theatre, expected to launch at the Jean Pike Centre in April. The intent of the Theatre is inclusion, and it will act as a gathering place and community showcase to provide, as Chris says, “a stage to give voice to the unheard, a space to meet, share, listen, learn and converse.”
Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize British Columbians who are helping to build community inclusion for the people CLBC serves. The 2015 nomination process invited people to nominate someone they think is helping to build communities where British Columbians of all abilities feel welcome, valued and respected. CLBC received over 50 nominations, and the 2015 winners were chosen by an evaluation committee of community and family members, CLBC community council members, CLBC staff, service providers and individuals served by CLBC.
In February and March, four other WOW Awards are being presented to deserving recipients:
- Victoria – Adam Irwin-Gunn will be acknowledged for his tireless volunteer work, support of the self-advocacy movement and raising awareness of what it is like to live with autism
- Chilliwack – Garth McCreedy for mentoring and supporting individuals to gain confidence and connections both in and outside the workplace
- Kelowna – Shelley DeCoste for launching the Diversabilities campaign to shift attitudes about the ability of the individuals CLBC serves
- Kelowna – Sunrise Rotary for supporting the people CLBC serves to develop skills and find employment
To see photos submitted from many different B.C. communities, and for more information about the WOW!clbc Awards visit www.communitylivingbc.ca/wowawards.
Seonag Macrae, CLBC CEO:
“I want to congratulate this year’s WOW Awards winners and all of the nominees for 2016. It is clear from the nominations received that there is a wealth of innovative ideas, activities and initiatives being spearheaded by community champions across the province. These efforts not only raise awareness about inclusion, but help everyone see that through our individual acceptance of diversity, our communities become richer and more vibrant places to live.”
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell:
“Congratulations to these champions of inclusion. As community leaders, you have made a difference by ensuring that people with developmental disabilities are equally treated and given the same opportunities to participate in everyday activities and all aspects of the community. The annual WOW Awards are a reminder of how important it is to recognize people who are simply doing what is natural to them, they don’t think its exceptional, when in fact their impact on people is far reaching, sometimes life changing, and should be acknowledged.”
Lesley Thorsell, Nominator:
“Chris’s title at Inclusion Powell River is Community Connector, and he takes the role very seriously. He meets people regularly for coffee to get a feel for who they are, what they want, what is lacking in their life, what they would like to see, what can be done differently – and he really listens. He is always listening to the “beat” of people and following that with something that meets their needs. The drumming and music he shares with people lowers their insecurities, raises their confidence and feeling of belonging. His work is definitely assisting people to develop social networks they would not normally have, in a way they can feel equal.”
Chris Weekes, WOW Award Winner:
“I was completely surprised to be one of the 2015 WOW Award winners. I want to thank Lesley and the Inclusion Powell River team for nominating me. I am honoured to be recognized for something I am passionately committed to – building inclusion through music. Art is an equalizer, something everyone can enjoy and participate in. Through music and theatre, we can create spaces where people of all abilities can come together to share, connect and learn about one another.”