The annual Premier’s Council Awards publicly acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of individuals, groups, businesses and organizations to develop barrier-free, inclusive communities in Alberta.
The 2017 recipients of the Premier’s Council Awards are:
Gary McPherson Leadership Award
Lauren Raymore (Calgary)
Lauren Raymore founded the Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation 27 years ago to provide adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to be successful parents.
Lauren developed the Connections’ service model. It begins with parents’ strengths and teaches parenting skills in a way that matches the parents’ learning style and links them to additional community supports.
Now in its 28th year, Connections continues to help hundreds of families thrive. Connections’ model of support and its talented in-home support team have been successful for hundreds of families and are changing attitudes about parenting with a disability.
Lauren continues to be the Connections’ program director, cultivating the team who directly supports families, ensuring Connections continues to be successful now and long into the future.
Marlin Styner Achievement Award
Cecil Pizzey (Grande Prairie)
Cecil Pizzey is a cancer survivor left without his voice box and with severely compromised shoulder muscles. He became a quadriplegic with limited hand and arm movements and without the use of his legs. Determined to remain engaged in the community, he became a volunteer.
Cecil’s volunteerism impacts many individuals who have disabilities and their support networks. Cecil is both a referral source and self-advocate. His effectiveness is evident through his leadership on numerous boards of service delivery agencies. By maintaining a high profile with council members of the City of Grande Prairie, he promotes the city’s mobility plan – built on the premise of universal design, focused on built environments and reducing stigma associated with disabilities.
This year, Cecil became a power soccer player and Treasurer for the Wolverine’s Wheelchair Sports Association while maintaining his commitments to the Grande Prairie Residential Society and Spinal Cord Injury Alberta as a board member and reliable volunteer during fundraising events.
Award of Excellence in Community
Rednecks with a Cause Society (Bonnyville)
Rednecks with a Cause was founded by an immigrant couple in 2012 and registered as a society in 2013. It aims to build an intervention centre for children on the Autism spectrum.
Fundraising is done through dinner and dance events with live and silent auctions. These funds are used to create learning opportunities for school staff, aid workers and parents of children on the spectrum.
Over the years, the society has hosted speakers at local conference events, including Linda Hodgdon, Leah Kuypers and Dr. Ross Green’s staff. In 2018, they are looking forward to host Dr. Temple Grandin in Bonnyville. This society has also provided funding to all schools in Lakeland to improve their sensory rooms.
The society lives by the slogan “we do whatever it takes.” They take it very seriously and look forward to continuing to serve the Lakeland area residents.
The Lending Cupboard Society of Alberta (Red Deer)
The Lending Cupboard is a registered charity that provides medical equipment to the people of Central Alberta who need it, whether it is short- or long-term, minor or serious. With an inventory of more than 9,700 items, the society lends about 1,300 pieces of medical equipment every month. Last year, it supported over 9,700 clients including children, youth, adults and senior citizens. The loaned equipment helps with extreme sports injuries, recovery from illness or surgery, end-of-life care and total joint arthroplasty such as hip or knee replacement.
The Lending Cupboard’s vision is that Albertans have access to medical equipment and daily living aids that enhance their quality of life. Their mission is to provide equipment to enhance quality of life by maintaining mobility, independence and dignity.
Dale Old (Calgary)
Dale Old was hired as a community support worker in 1996 and has remained with The Calgary Society of Community Opportunities (CSCO) to this day. She was promoted to trainer for the social skills programs in July 2017, bringing a wealth of knowledge and insight to the position. These programs were developed to provide high quality, low cost, social inclusion activities for adults with disabilities.
Currently, Dale is offering 8 programs quarterly, serving 430 individuals annually.
Dale has exceled as a trainer, putting the people she supports front and centre. She continually proves to be a proactive and compassionate individual with excellent problem-solving skills. Being a mature professional with a high level of integrity, she is a valuable liaison to other professionals and the community-at-large.
She is an honoured member of the CSCO team. Feedback from participants in her programs indicate Dale is a friendly, hard-working, dedicated, quiet leader who is committed to advancing social skills programs for the enjoyment of all.
Award of Excellence in Education
St. Mary’s University (Calgary)
St. Mary’s University is a Catholic University in Calgary and the fastest-growing post-secondary institution in Alberta, having grown by over 54% in the last 5 years. St. Mary’s provides a well-rounded educational experience, casting barriers aside and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment enabling people to reach their academic potential and goals. In addition to bachelor’s degrees, it offers the award-winning Humanities 101 program free to Calgary’s most economically disadvantaged citizens, helping them overcome barriers to education.
St. Mary’s is a trailblazer for post-secondary institutions and continues to be a champion in providing a safe, supportive, accessible and inclusive environment for marginalized students. Its Accessibility Advisory Board consists of faculty, staff, community members and students who ensure new developments on campus are be barrier-free and inclusive for all.
Award of Excellence in Employment
Power of Work, Goodwill Industries of Alberta (Grande Prairie)
Goodwill’s Power of Work is a career development program that assists Albertans with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment and volunteer work in their community through skill building, customizing work opportunities and job coaching. Goodwill also helps employers select fitting candidates by matching individuals’ skill sets and abilities to employers’ needs.
Goodwill supports both the participant and employer until the Power of Work participant is able to fulfil their duties independently. The Grande Prairie program has been running for 16 years.
Goodwill Industries of Alberta is a non-profit and registered charity that provides Albertans with disabilities the opportunity to enhance their lives through meaningful employment. It is one of the largest employers of Albertans with disabilities, providing jobs for close to 50 years.
Carrie Rodgerson (Edmonton)
Carrie Rodgerson is the branch manager at the ATB Financial Meadows Branch in Edmonton.
In 2016, Carrie met a person with a disability and recognized that her abilities and positive personality would create a welcoming environment for the customers at the bank. Carrie established a new position that would benefit this employee and the employer.
The new employee’s experience created a working environment that showed personal attention to customers and created a community within the branch. The new employee offer iced coffee and had conversations with customers waiting in line. Thanks to Carrie’s initiative and leadership, customers are able to enjoy their time at the branch with friendly atmosphere and conversation. ATB has documented this experience with a video highlighting the rewards of diversity
Award of Excellence in Public Awareness
Clayton Brad (Fort Saskatchewan)
Clayton Brad is a young man with a disability who lives and works in the city of Fort Saskatchewan. Upon graduating high school, Clayton began volunteering at the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital. He also secured employment with the local radio station.
Clayton has been instrumental in planning and participating in the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) event in Fort Saskatchewan over the past 4 years, while raising public awareness about disabilities. Through Clayton’s efforts providing community presentations, the awareness, interest and participation in IDPD continues to grow.
In 2017, Clayton asked a local radio station to issue a challenge to other cities, towns and hamlets around Edmonton to sign an IDPD proclamation, which would form a ring around Edmonton.
Shauna MacKinnon (Fort McMurray)
For almost 20 years, Shauna MacKinnon has dedicated her time increasing public awareness about multiple sclerosis (MS). She supports many community members, like herself, who live with a disability that is not always visible.
Shauna was the master of ceremonies at last year’s community MS Walk. Her message to stay involved and keep moving is directed towards both people living with MS and potential donors. She is currently a member of the MS Advisory Council in Fort McMurray but also lends her voice to other groups supporting people living with a variety of disabilities from mental illness to spinal cord injury. Shauna’s role as a radio personality enables her to spread her message widely throughout the region.
Mackenzie Meyer (Sherwood Park)
Mackenzie Meyer has written a book about her life with Down syndrome titled, “Just Try and Stop Me.” She breaks barriers and assumptions about her disability and shows the world how nothing can hold her back from living her life the way she wants to live it. Mackenzie held a book signing after the release that prompted media interviews with 630 CHED, the Sherwood Park newspaper and Edmonton’s CTV Morning Live. She is currently accepting more speaking opportunities and raising awareness that in life we need to focus on abilities and not the challenges we face.
Mackenzie has 2 jobs, volunteers and lives on her own. She loves interacting with customers at her job with Goodwill Industries of Alberta and takes great pride in what she does. She will continue to tell the story of her life’s journey, and not allow her disability to prevent her from pursuing a full life and the goals she wishes to achieve.