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City of Kawartha Lakes presents Accessibility Awareness Recognition Awards

May 23, 2017 - During a special Council meeting Tuesday, May 23, Council recognized 10 individuals and businesses who have made outstanding contributions to improving accessibility in Kawartha Lakes.

In the past 10 years, the Accessibility Advisory Committee, through Council, has recognized 57 residents, business owners and community groups for their efforts to make Kawartha Lakes more accessible. Our Accessibility Awareness Award winners have gone above and beyond the expectation in removing barriers and have increased awareness of accessibility issues within the City.

To qualify for the award, nominees must live or work in Kawartha Lakes. Furthermore, they must be involved with accessibility issues, promote "Accessibility for All" in the community, and have demonstrated outstanding contribution within the past year.

"It's wonderful to once again celebrate the outstanding contributions of these award recipients," says Barb Condie, Accessibility Coordinator for the City of Kawartha Lakes. "In the 10 years that have passed since the Accessibility Advisory Committee started recognizing Kawartha Lakes residents, our community has become increasingly passionate about improving accessibility and increasing awareness."

The awards presented Tuesday not only recognize the significant contributions from specific individuals and businesses, they encourage continue improvement in the future.

"I'd like to congratulate and thank each Accessibility Awareness Award recipient for their dedication to a more inclusive community," says Mayor Andy Letham. "Your contributions continue to make Kawartha Lakes a better place to live, work and play and for that, on behalf of Council, I thank you."

This year's recipients are as follows:

Outstanding Contribution-Business

BobFM:

Our local radio station was a trailblazer when they hired a legally blind employee approximately 10 years ago. The radio station looked to CNIB and VCCS Employment Centre for assistance to make the workplace meet the employee's needs. Various recommendations regarding devices and modifications were acted upon to make the workplace more accessible.

Through their efforts, an informational video has been produced with the hopes of encouraging other employers to take a chance and hire persons with disabilities.

Lakeland Funeral and Cremation Centre:

Every Kawartha Lakes resident will need the services of a funeral home at some point and Lakeland Funeral and Cremation Centre is working to make the process easier for all. Their facility is completely accessible including the washroom facilities.

The staff members are accommodating of the requirements of visitors and family. Whether it is lowering the guest book or rearranging seating to fit a wheelchair, the changes are made so efficiently and seamless that many would never notice.

This local business recently added a new "employee" to their roster, a therapy dog who helps clients as desired through a very difficult time in their lives.

Outstanding Contribution-Community Group

United Way, CKL:

While the United Way does many things to make our community better, one specific project, the Community Gardens, broke many barriers. Just last year, 88 gardens were created. Many of these gardens were built at a higher level to allow people with mobility and accessibility issues to access them.

Clients of the Adult Day Centre used these gardens to access fresh tomatoes for their lunches.

Realizing that gardening can be a challenge for some residents, the United Way purchased ergonomic tools that were available for loan to gardeners as well as garden work stools. Staff and volunteers assisted gardeners needing extra help to tend to their gardens.

Five Counties Children's Centre:

Five Counties' motto is "to make dreams come true" and their goal is to help children needing specialized service reach their potential. For more than 40 years, the Centre has been known for its excellence and high quality services.

The Centre believes in a family centered approach that provides quality service in a supportive environment. Through the various services offered for the children, families gain knowledge and confidence needed to advocate for their children.

The Centre brings awareness to issues related to accessibility and to residents who face them through the many activities and events.

Outstanding Contribution-Adult:

JW Weitz has been involved with Five Counties Children's Centre for approximately 20 years. He is a valuable employee as well as a great contributor to Kawartha Lakes through his varied volunteer involvements. JW has been pivotal in inspiring children and families to achieve their goals through his positive attitude, encouragement and support. To boost the spirits of a child facing a long recovery and countless hours of therapies, JW donned a Santa costume, delivered a therapy toy and encouraged the young child. JW's encouragement helped the child's recovery immensely.

JW has an amazing talent of being able to adapt equipment and toys to allow children to be children. He has been very involved in planning the Centre's float for the Lindsay Santa Claus parade to raise awareness of accessibility needs.

Courtney Peeters is a strong advocate for those living with disabilities. As an older sister of someone who lives with multiple exceptionalities, she speaks from experience.

Over the past 10 years, Courtney has helped her family raise more than $70,000 for research through for b.r.a.i.n.child (Brain Tumour Research, Assistance and Information Network) at SickKids. She has spoken on several occasions about the long-term effects of childhood brain tumours and their impact on families, and has advocated for inclusion at a local fair by ensuring the incorporation of a section identifying class categories for special needs in the publicly distributed fair book.

Courtney spearheaded several fundraising efforts for the Lindsay Learning Disabilities Association including yard sales and movie nights.

Courtney understands why accessibility is so important and she is not afraid to step up and speak for it.

Outstanding Contribution-City Employee

Ryan Smith, since joining the City of Kawartha Lakes team, has been working hard to make our public spaces more accessible.

Ryan is extremely passionate about making Kawartha Lakes playgrounds accessible and ensuring the equipment he purchases installs provides a fun experience for all children, regardless of abilities.

He has had specialized swings installed at parks to allow children who otherwise could not play safely the opportunity to do so. For those with mobility issues, Ryan has designed accessible walkways to access the parks. Accessible showers were installed under his watch at overnight docking facilities.

Ryan demonstrates his commitment every day to breaking down accessibility barriers in public spaces and our City is richer for it.

Outstanding Design

Globus Theatre:

The theatre eliminated barriers to accessibility at their facility in 2016 with the installation of two accessible washrooms and a push-button automatic door opener. These changes allowed more access and opportunities for people with disabilities to attend the productions.

The re-engineering of the actors' washrooms allowed dedicated facilities for patrons with disabilities. The door opener allowed easier entrance after using the existing ramp.

Globus Theatre's changes have allowed more people with disabilities, residents and visitors alike to take in a performance and enjoy the theatre experience.

St James Anglican Church, Fenelon Falls knows accessibility was extremely important. After a visitor was unable to attend a funeral due to the facility's inaccessible entrance, the congregation decided that no one would ever be unable to enter the doors again.

The doorways were widened, the kitchen and a washroom were renovated and a covered, lit ramp was installed. The first three rows of pews were replaced with removable benches to allow for wheelchair access.

The renovated kitchen is fully accessible and is used by students at the local school for cooking classes as well as a community cooking class. The ramp was built to assist people using wheelchairs, walkers and canes as well as those who are visually impaired. The entrance is covered and an automatic door opener allows visitors easy access to the church.

Since the renovations were completed, the church has held public meetings, film evenings, concerts and Friday night "jam sessions" open to all residents regardless of ability.

Jim O'Reilly and Dorothy Carroll are the owners of the historic Post building at 15 William Street North. Instead of throwing up their arms and resigning themselves to leaving the building as it was built more than a hundred years ago, Jim and Dorothy saw potential and possibility. They had accessible power doors installed at the front and back entrances, added two large wheelchair accessible washrooms with full length transfer bars at the toilets and added an elevator from the first to third floors. Seeing a need for drop-off parking, they added spots close to the doors.

All of these renovations were done to a historic building that maintains its heritage while being accessible to so many more City of Kawartha Lakes' residents. The Four Counties Brain Injury Program is now housed on the third floor of the building.

We recognize Jim and Dorothy for helping to break down barriers while maintaining historic integrity.

Accessibility Awareness Award recipients - group

Recipients of the 2017 Accessibility Awareness Awards gather with Mayor Andy Letham, Councillor Stephen Strangway and Barb Condie, Accessibility Coordinator for the City of Kawartha Lakes at City Hall on Tuesday, May 23.

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For more information, please contact:

Jamie Steel
Communications, Advertising, Marketing Officer
705-324-9411 extension 1293
jsteel@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca

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