Victoria resident Adam Irwin-Gunn is being recognized today with a Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) Widening Our World (WOW) Award for his exceptional contribution to supporting people with different abilities to lead good lives, have rich relationships and choices in how they live work and play.
Adam was nominated for the WOW Award by Heather Bergink from Lifetime Networks, and is one of five British Columbians receiving the award this year. Heather nominated Adam for his volunteer work with multiple organizations that support people in Victoria with developmental disabilities, and his skill and passion for inclusion and helping people connect to their community. He has led community education initiatives with municipal leaders about wheelchair accessibility and at Camosun College about inclusion in classrooms; as well, Adam volunteers with many other broader community organizations, promoting inclusion through his perspectives and collaboration.
As a person living with autism, Adam is also dedicated to teaching others about autism and other different abilities. He has designed and developed a website called Secrets of Autism as a comprehensive resource to educate people about what it is like to experience autism.
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 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 March, four other WOW Awards will be presented to deserving recipients:
- Chilliwack – Garth McCreedy for mentoring and supporting individuals to gain confidence and connections both in and outside the workplace
- 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
The March 11 event was sponsored by the University of Victoria’s Society for Students with Disabilities (SSD); SSD is actively working to build connections throughout the local community. Learn more about CLBC or past WOW Award winners. To learn more about the SDSS, visit www.uvicssd.com/about-us
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.”
Heather Bergink, Nominator:
“Adam lives and breathes inclusion. He unfailingly encourages others with different abilities to speak up and uses his skills to advocate for his friends when they cannot. Adam approaches inclusion from two angles: he encourages others with different abilities to contribute to their community and to strengthen connections through more social opportunities, and he simultaneously teaches members of the wider community about the importance of inclusion, and offers them some tools to achieve it. He never passes up an opportunity to advocate for acceptance and inclusion.”
Adam Irwin-Gunn, WOW Award Winner:
“My mother included others with different abilities, and her main focus was autism, which I myself have. One of the last things she had said to me before she died was how I had a gift. I wanted to carry on what she had started, to continue on the message of inclusion and acceptance. I do this work to honour my mum as she also had a gift of connecting with people and teaching people.”
Community Living BC