Four British Columbians have won a 2016 Widening Our World (WOW) award for their dedication, courage and ingenuity in supporting their communities to more fully include those served by Community Living BC. The four recipients were chosen out of nearly 40 deserving people; all nominees were recognized for their efforts to build inclusion, create employment opportunities, and increase people’s access to community and social networks.
Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize British Columbians who are creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead full lives, have rich relationships, choices in how they live, and employment opportunities. The eighth WOW nomination process invited people to nominate a person or organization whose work they believe is building communities where people of all abilities feel welcome, valued and respected.
The 2016 winners were chosen by an evaluation committee of CLBC community council members, CLBC staff and individuals served by CLBC. This year’s winners are:
- Brian Smith, CEO and founder of Persephone Brewing Company, for his grassroots efforts to build inclusion and create jobs for the people CLBC serves – Gibsons
- Astrid Koenig, volunteer and service provider, for her tireless efforts to ensure self advocates have opportunities for employment, education and community connection – Sooke
- Ronnie Bouvier, executive director of the Kamloops Graffiti Task Force, for creating first time employment opportunities (with the help of BC Hydro) for young adults while raising public awareness of the contributions they can make to their communities – Kamloops
- Chris Morsund, Chatters Pizzeria and Bistro, for their 15-year commitment to hiring inclusively and setting an example for other small businesses to follow – Smithers
The awards will be handed out and celebrated in each winner’s home town in February and March.
Nominations of inclusion champions were submitted throughout Community Living Month in October 2016. To learn more about all the nominees, or for more information about the WOW Awards, visit www.communitylivingbc.ca/wow.
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell:
“Congratulations to the four winners of the 2016 WOW awards. The impact of their dedicated service shows that valuing the contributions of people with disabilities creates stronger, more connected communities. These leaders highlight the important successes and benefits that stem from making British Columbia a more inclusive, accessible province for all.”
Seonag Macrae, CEO, Community Living BC:
“Congratulations to this year’s WOW Award winners. They each have a clear commitment to helping create welcoming communities that provide many opportunities for everyone. Inclusion is a collaborative effort and we thank our winners and all 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.”
Community Living BC