Chilliwack resident Garth McCreedy (left) is being recognized today with a 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. He is one of only five B.C. individuals to receive the award this year.
Garth was nominated for the WOW award by his Home Depot colleague, Eddy Solla (right), a Gold Medal Paralympic athlete who is diagnosed with a developmental disability. Garth is a strong supporter and ally, encouraging Eddy to pursue different experiences and to develop different skills. Garth, who is also in a wheelchair, has been helping Eddy get his driver’s licence, mentoring him to learn all the departments at the Home Depot. He has also introduced him to people who have helped Eddy modify his everyday chair so he can play golf without having to purchase a special chair. Garth has increased Eddy’s independence, seeing only ability, not disability.
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 British Columbians to nominate someone they think is helping to build communities where people of all abilities feel welcome, valued and respected. CLBC received over 50 nominations and the 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 March, four other WOW Awards will be 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
- Powell River – Chris Weekes for helping the people CLBC serves build support networks and skills through music
- 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 learn more about CLBC or past WOW Award winners, visit www.communitylivingbc.ca
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.”
MLA Laurie Throness, MLA for Chilliwack/Hope
“Garth and Eddy’s story is the very definition of inclusiveness. I was proud to hear someone from Chilliwack has won another WOW CLBC award. These awards highlight the great work that is taking place around diversity, inclusion and citizenship not only here in Chilliwack, but throughout our communities in BC.”
MLA John Martin, MLA Chilliwack
“Garth McCreedy’s story is truly a special one, worthy of this recognition by his peers. It is heart-warming to see the friendship that has formed between him and his colleague, Eddy. In the workplace and in the community, Garth and Eddy exemplify the ideals of inclusivity and diversity. Congratulations to Garth on receiving this honour from CLBC.”
Eddy Solla, Nominator
“Garth has been a mentor at work for me as well as in social settings. He is helping me learn to golf and get my drivers license. Garth is in a wheelchair as well but golf’s everyday. Garth connected me with someone who could modify my chair to make golf a possibility. He is working on getting someone to customize clubs for me. I nominated Garth because he has never treated me as someone living with a developmental disability, he is my friend and we genuinely enjoy spending time together, golfing and doing things that friends do.”
Garth McCreedy, WOW Award Winner
“When Eddy brought it to my attention that he was nominating me, I was flabbergasted because I didn’t think I was doing anything unusual. I enjoy playing golf and being active and I knew Eddy was an athlete, far better than me, and he wanted to play golf so I asked him to join me and we’ve been going ever since. I thought I was being selfish because I just wanted someone to play golf with. I didn’t think what I was doing was worthy of an award of any kind. When CLBC called me to tell me I won an award, I couldn’t believe it, I was really honoured.”