KAWARTHA LAKES-Lindsay Food Basics was one of a number of local organizations recognized at the fourteenth annual Accessibility Awareness Recognition Awards announced on June 7th.
The awards are to show appreciation for the people, groups, organizations and businesses that went above and beyond to make Kawartha Lakes more accessible this past year.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) for their work, particularly these last couple years which has been hard on us,” commented Councillor Doug Elmslie while introducing the awards. “They continue to work hard to make our community more accessible for everybody and these awards help encourage more people to get involved.”
To start, the Kawartha Lakes AAC recognized and thanked the many pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who went above and beyond during the pandemic, offering in-vehicle vaccinations, new delivery services and a number of modified services to help residents with disabilities.
This year a variety of individuals and groups were recognized for helping make Kawartha Lakes more accessible.
Outstanding Contribution Business
- Lindsay Food Basics: Recognized for their hiring of individuals with disabilities. Up to 10 individuals with a variety of challenges, both physical and intellectual, are employed at the store at any time. Their decision to hire employees with disabilities is not company-driven, but a conscious decision by their local management.
Outstanding Contribution – Community Groups
- Kawartha Settlers’ Village, Bobcaygeon: In 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, the Kawartha Lakes Festival of Trees was not possible but this did not dissuade the volunteers at the Village. They created a drive through event and the change allowed everyone to enjoy the festival from the comfort of a vehicle. In 2021 the drive through event continued and allows more people to join the festivities.
- Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) Vaccination Team: The drive through vaccination clinic opened at the LEX on March 18 and ran until August 22, 2021. The drive through clinic increased access to the vaccine and in total more than 62,000 vaccinations were administered at the site. A team of more than 20 nurses and doctors from RMH worked at the site tirelessly, serving roughly 500 vehicles each day. The set-up removed barriers for people with mobility challenges and helped create a comfort zone for what can be an anxiety inducing experience.
Outstanding Contribution – Individual
- Carl Rennick: Carl has been instrumental in growing wheelchair curling in Canada since 2006. Carl read about Jon Thurston’s injury and encouraged him to try the sport—earlier this year Jon Thurston from Dunsford and the Canadian Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team won bronze at the Beijing Winter Games. Carl also spearheaded the Give It A Go program at the Bobcaygeon Curling Club and has served on the board of hospitals in Sarnia, serving physically disabled children from birth to 16, and has been an active participant in accessibility issues for many years in our community.
Outstanding Contribution – City of Kawartha Lakes Employee/Team
- Paramedics Service: Seeing a need to assist members of the community with high-resource needs being discharged from the hospital with no family to assist, Paramedics Service helped these residents remain in their homes longer and avoid readmission to hospital. They created the Community Paramedics Program, with Paramedics performing regular in-home check-ins and providing medication and other services. The value of this program was recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Health and has been followed in other areas of the province.
Outstanding New Build or Modification
- Bobcaygeon Curling Club and Recreational Facility: Members of the Club wanted to allow the opportunity for wheelchair curlers to join their leagues, but before that was possible the building had to undergo some major changes. A wheelchair lift was installed, as well as accessible washrooms for greater access for all residents. In October 2021, the Club held it’s first Give It A Go Day to introduce wheelchair curling to anyone interested in attending.
- The Kirkfield and District Historical Society: The Society has undertaken a major renovation of the Kirkfield Museum, including a wheelchair accessible ramp, automated power doors and accessible washrooms with adult change tables. The group is also continuing with plans to remove stairs to the building, improving mobility inside and ensuring accessibility to all museum visitors.
Barbara McArthur Award of Distinction
- Lynda DaSilva: Lynda has volunteered and advocated for people with disabilities for almost 30 years. Lynda has been actively involved in the MS Society on the local, provincial and national level. She has offered encouragement and assistance for local residents diagnosed with MS and shares her personal history. Lynda was instrumental in establishing the Thumbs Up Program to encourage local businesses to train their staff on providing accessible customer service. Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley recognized the program when he attended the Accessibility Forum in Lindsay. Lynda has also broken down many barriers as a member of the Kawartha Lakes AAC.
To watch the full awards presentation, view the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Kawartha Lakes YouTube.