Premier’s Council 2017 Award Winners - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Premier’s Council 2017 Award Winners

Lauren Raymore (Calgary) – Gary McPherson Leadership Award

Lauren Raymore founded the Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation 27 years ago to provide adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to be successful parents. After graduating from the Social Work program at the University of Waterloo, Lauren settled in Calgary. In early front-line roles, Lauren saw adults with developmental disabilities in relationships and becoming pregnant, only to have their babies taken from them at birth.

Lauren believed adults with cognitive challenges had the right to choose to have relationships and be parents. In many situations, Lauren saw the parents had the capacity to be successful if they were given the support to learn parenting skills and manage a household. 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. Lauren has built a culture based on the belief of everyone’s capacity to learn and providing every opportunity for success. 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. The Calgary region is a better place for adults with cognitive disabilities because Lauren Raymore chose Calgary as her home.


Cecil Pizzey (Grande Prairie) – Marlin Styner Achievement Award

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. In constant pain, Cecil found himself in long-term care and without a job. This did not stop him. Cecil determined that maintaining connections in the community depended on his capacity to help others. He set on a path to become an effective volunteer despite his disabilities.

In 2012, Cecil joined the local planning committee for Chair-Leaders Enabling Access Event with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Alberta. Cecil initiated a fundraiser and coordinated the event from within the long-term care facility where he was living. He not only helped raise nearly $900, he also brought three facility staff to the event where they participated as Chair-Leaders for the day and learned the value of accessible environments.

In 2014, Cecil joined the Grande Prairie Residential Society (GPRS) as a board member. He also served as a regional SCI Alberta volunteer at the local Swan City Rotary Club Cash and Camping Lottery after being an Ambassador for the Chair-Leaders Enabling Access Event. Developing his skills as a self-advocate, Cecil appeared before the city council promoting the need for an accessible taxi to compliment the local handi-bus services.

The following year, Cecil obtained a van he could drive from his wheelchair and joined a peer group event in Peace River, where he became a strong member of the weekly bowling group. He quickly supported others who were learning the strategies of using a bowling ramp for the first time and provided transportation to and from bowling for a youth with learning disabilities and behavioural concerns. He also became a board member with the provincial board of SCI Alberta.

This year, Cecil became a power soccer player and Treasurer for the Wolverine’s Wheelchair Sports Association while maintaining his commitments to the GPRS and SCI Alberta as a board member and reliable volunteer during fundraising events. Cecil is also on the Rollin’ Bowlers team in the Mixed Ten-Pin Bowling League – the first fully inclusive team in Grande Prairie.

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 own mobility plan – built on the premise of universal design, focused on built environments and reducing stigma associated with disabilities.


Rednecks with a Cause Society (Bonnyville) – Award of Excellence in Community

Rednecks with a Cause was founded by an immigrant couple in 2012 and registered as a society in 2013. The group still exists with the original founders and five parents that joined when the group was registered. Many volunteers help with annual events. Rednecks with a Cause aim to build an intervention centre for children on the Autism spectrum.

Through dinner and dance events with live and silent auctions, where all auctioned items are donated by local businesses and private individuals, fundraising is achieved. Funds raised 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) – Award of Excellence in Community

The Lending Cupboard provides medical equipment to those who need it, whether it is short- or long-term, minor or serious – they are there to help. As a registered charity, The Lending Cupboard lends medical equipment to the people of Central Alberta.

They receive support from a variety of service clubs and private donations. They also receive an annual grant from Alberta Health Services that covers 20 per cent of their budget and rely on other private and government grants to cover their operating budget.

With an inventory of more than 9,700 items, the Lending Cupboard lends out approximately 1,300 pieces of medical equipment every month. Last year, they supported over 9,700 clients. In their first quarter this year, they served over 3,300 people. The equipment lent out each month goes to children, youth, adults and senior citizens to help with extreme sports injuries, recover from illness or surgery, end-of-life care and total joint arthroplasty (typically hip or knee replacement).

Equipment available through the Lending Cupboard includes: air casts, bed rails, bath chairs, bath lifts, commodes, toilet risers, crutches and canes, hydraulic lifts, toilet safety rails, transport chairs, walkers, wheelchairs, super poles and roho cushions and many more specialized pieces.

The Lending Cupboard’s visions 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) – Award of Excellence in Community

Dale Old was hired as a community support worker November 1, 1996, and has remained with The Calgary Society of Community Opportunities (CSCO) to this day. She was promoted to the position of trainer for the social skills programs July 31, 2017, bringing a wealth of knowledge and insight to the position. The social skills programs were developed to provide high quality, low cost, social inclusion activities for adults with disabilities. Currently, Dale is offering eight programs quarterly, serving 430 individuals annually.

Dale has exceled in the role of trainer, putting the people she supports front and centre. She continually proves to be a proactive and compassionate individual who possesses excellent problem-solving skills. Dale is caring and successfully advocates for others.

Being a mature professional with a high level of integrity, she is a valuable liaison to other professionals and the community at large. Dale is resourceful and continually strives to meet the challenging and diverse needs of the participants in the program.

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 the social skills programs for the enjoyment of all.


St. Mary’s University (Calgary) – Award of Excellence in Education

St. Mary’s University is a Catholic University in Calgary that is now the fastest-growing post-secondary institution in Alberta, having grown by over 54 per cent in the last five years. They offer eight Bachelor of Arts degrees, a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Education after degree as well as transferrable university courses in 35 academic disciplines. They also offer the award-winning Humanities 101 program that is offered free of charge to Calgary’s most economically disadvantaged citizens. Humanities 101 helps the disenfranchised overcome barriers to education.

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. They strive to make a difference and are an exemplary example to follow for post-secondary institutions.

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. Their Accessibility Advisory Board, consisting of faculty, staff, community members and students, ensures any future developments on campus will be barrier-free and inclusive for all.


Power of Work, Goodwill Industries of Alberta (Grande Prairie) – Award of Excellence in Employment

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 by creating an individualized path to employment. From skill building to customizing work opportunities and job coaching, Goodwill supports each person’s needs and interests. 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. Their Power of Work team collaborates with community stakeholders and local businesses to provide work and volunteer experience for Albertans with disabilities in the Grande Prairie area. Goodwill’s Power of Work program in Grande Prairie has been running for 16 years. The path to employment consists of assessments, career discovery, employment preparation, opportunity development and success in the workplace.

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. They are one of the largest employers of Albertans with disabilities; 27 per cent of Goodwill employees chose to disclose a disability. Goodwill has been providing jobs for Albertans with disabilities at its donation centres and thrift stores for close to 50 years.


Carrie Rodgerson (Edmonton) – Award of Excellence in Employment

Carrie Rodgerson is the branch manager at the ATB Financial Meadows Branch in Edmonton. She has a passion for the community and for representing ATB Financial. Carrie has set a great example of how to hire inclusively.

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 approached head office with a proposal to create a position that would benefit both the employee and the employer. Soon afterwards, a new position was created.

The new employee’s experience created a working environment that showed personal attention to customers and created a community within the branch. Carrie embraced this social quality about the new employee and encouraged staff to get creative in how they could better engage the community. They began with having the new employee offer iced coffee and conversation with customers waiting in line and have since created a video highlighting the rewards of diversity. Carrie has a vision of community, inclusion, diversity and, most importantly, people.

Thanks to Carrie’s initiative and leadership, customers are able to enjoy their time at the branch and engage in the friendly atmosphere and conversation.


Clayton Brad (Fort Saskatchewan) – Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

Clayton Brad is a young man with a disability who lives and works in the city of Fort Saskatchewan. Clayton was born in the northern town of High Level, Alberta. He has lived in several rural towns in Alberta and is the oldest of two children, and is proud to say he has a sister. Upon graduating from Sturgeon Composite 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 four years and while raising public awareness on disabilities. In 2014, IDPD impacted a very small crowd, namely reporters from various media, Clayton’s co-workers and some staff from EmployAbilities. The following year’s event saw an increase in interest and participation from outlying communities, the Robin Hood Society day program, people from the disability community and more public relations representatives from various organizations. In 2016, the largest crowd to date, over 50, was recorded. This included the same groups as previous years, plus more community groups such as the Rotary Club, a public relations representative from one of the largest plants, a couple of city staff and a representative from the city library.

Through Clayton’s efforts to provide community presentations, the interest, awareness and participation of IDPD continues to grow. This year, Clayton asked a local radio station to issue a challenge to other cities, towns and hamlets around Edmonton to sign an IDPD proclamation to form a ring around Edmonton. Clayton has worked very hard on raising awareness on disabilities.


Shauna MacKinnon (Fort McMurray) – Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

For almost 20 years, Shauna MacKinnon has dedicated her time to provide public awareness for multiple sclerosis (MS) and what it’s like living and working with a disability, first in Nova Scotia and for the past four years in Fort McMurray. She supports many community members, like herself, who live with a disability that is not always visible. She has met challenges in the workplace with diversity to change policies moving forward. Shauna was the master of ceremonies at last year’s community MS Walk, where she spoke to the public about her disability, raised awareness of research that has had a positive impact on her life and encouraged others who may share a similar disability with the message that she has been able to live the life she wants beyond her disability. Her role as a radio personality enables her to spread her message widely throughout the region.

The community is impacted by the events Shauna speaks at, as she highlights the importance of research and staying active in the community. Shauna’s message to stay involved and keep moving is directed towards both people living with MS and potential donors. Shauna 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.


Mackenzie Meyer (Sherwood Park) – Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

Mackenzie Meyer has written a book about her life with Down’s syndrome entitled, Just Try and Stop Me. Her book tells a story about different adventures, love, friendship and heartache. She breaks barriers and assumptions made 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 many 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 loves interacting with customers at her job with Goodwill Industries of Alberta and takes great pride in what she does. She has two jobs, volunteers and lives on her own. Mackenzie speaks out about her feelings and her journey, which has shaped her to be the person she is today. 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.

Modified: 2017-12-01
PID: 18625