Ambassador of the Year: Erica Richard
Our Ambassador of the Year Award is presented annually to a person who has been a strong ambassador for our organization, persons with a mobility disability or disability issues. The recipient of a 2020-2021 Ambassador of the Year Award is Erica Richard.
Erica Richard is in her final year of the Social Work program at Université de Moncton. Erica is a great ambassador for Ability NB and our mission. Erica lives with Arthrogryposis and is always open to share her story about transitioning into adulthood to promote our Transition NB program. She has shared her story through our success story series, in our presentations to communities/service providers and through our soon to be launched promotional video. Erica has also led by example in her community, being active in many volunteering opportunities such as the Université de Moncton’s social justice committee, and through work experiences such as the past two summers at Ergon Inc helping individuals with mental health difficulties. Erica has been vlogging (video logging) on YouTube for the past few years to help raise awareness of what it is like to live a day in the life of someone living with a mobility disability. Erica has also volunteered with Ability NB to be a peer mentor for another Transition NB service participant who was entering post-secondary education – Erica is an excellent peer who mentors as someone who has been there, done that. Thank you, Erica, for being an ambassador and showing us all what perseverance looks like!
Volunteer Award of Excellence: Shirley Barnes
Our Volunteer Award of Excellence is presented annually to an individual or group who demonstrates outstanding initiative and leadership in their volunteer work with Ability NB. The recipient of our 2020-2021 award is Shirley Barnes.
Shirley moved to New Brunswick from Newfoundland in the summer of 2015 to be closer to her daughter, her son-in-law and grandchildren. Shirley began volunteering with our team in September 2015 at our Feast in the Field event. Shirley is a retired food services worker who provides cleaning services to keep her busy. Shirley began donating her services to clean our head office once a month in 2015 and never misses a month. Her in-kind services helped keep us safe during the pandemic and she is always offering to help. She even sewed covers for our multi-sport wheelchairs to secure protective padding. Shirley also volunteers for the Fredericton Playhouse and we know her kind and inclusive approach ensures everyone has a positive experience. Thank you, Shirley, for giving us the gift of time.
Para Sport & Recreation Award: Ash Arrowsmith, Community Recreation Worker at the Town of Riverview
Our Para Sport & Recreation Award is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to parallel sport and recreation in New Brunswick in areas such as competition and achievement, program development, officiating or coaching. The recipient of our 2020-2021 award is Ash Arrowsmith, Community Recreation Worker at the Town of Riverview.
Ash has been an excellent partner and leader for the Para NB program and prioritizes the inclusion of every person for recreation programs offered by the Town of Riverview. Whether it is by making adapted equipment available during the Winter Carnival, consulting on the design of adapted programs, or referring residents to our program, Ash truly demonstrates the ideal partnership between a New Brunswick community and the Para NB program. Thank you, Ash, for your commitment to our Para NB motto – Everyone plays!
Active schools leadership award: Anik Gautreau
The inclusive active schools leadership award is presented annually to a physical education specialist, Educational Assistant, or student who has helped our Para NB – Sport & Recreation program grow within the school system or raised awareness of inclusive physical education during the fiscal year. The recipient of our 2020-2021 award is Anik Gautreau, Physical Education Specialist at Riverview Middle School.
For the past few years, Anik has been a leader with our schools program by putting in an equipment request form every school year to ensure all students are included in their physical education class and she raises awareness of disability issues with students without a disability. Anik is always willing to submit success stories to help promote the program and even went as far to submit an instructional video for our Active at Home video series during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown. Her video helped give creative ideas for persons with a mobility disability be active at home. Thank you Anik for showing New Brunswickers what truly inclusive physical education looks like!
Media Commitment to Community Award: Accessible Media Inc.
Our Media Commitment to Community Award is awarded annually to media that have made a significant contribution to raise awareness of our organization and the issues faced by persons with a disability. The recipient of our 2020-2021 award is Accessible Media Inc.
AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal. In March 2021, AMI launched a 22-minute documentary, filmed by New Brunswick’s Hemmings House, called “Grit” that follows the staff and service participants of Ability NB as we worked together to overcome the challenges of mobility during additional restrictions in the COVID-19 lockdown. AMI noted “Overcoming hurdles is normal. Doing it through a storm takes grit.”. Thank you, AMI, for sharing the Ability NB story and for your vision to: “establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.
Good Samaritan Award – Saint Andrews Outdoor Recreation and Trails Incorporated (SORTI)
Our Wilf Torunski Good Samaritan Award is newly established in 2021 in honour of an Ability NB Board member. The Good Samaritan Award is given annually to an individual or group who exemplify extraordinary concern for persons with a mobility disability and has helped someone in distress or facing adversity. The individual or group has carried out a good deed, has demonstrated “service above self” that has impacted the lives of a person or persons with a mobility disability in a positive way. The recipient of our 2020-2021 award is Saint Andrews Outdoor Recreation and Trails Incorporated (SORTI).
SORTI is a non-profit organization established by the Kiwanis Club of Saint Andrews in 2018 to take over and further develop the Van Horne trail and other outdoor facilities. Their mission is “to improve the health and wellbeing of the community and to make the outdoors and the natural world accessible to all”. They recently celebrated the opening of an accessible bird viewing platform in the town and their next project is an accessible, adult wellness/fitness park. SORTI routinely consults with Ability NB and is a committed community partner. Congratulations to Dr. David Johnson and SORTI for demonstrating what real inclusive communities look like!
Excellence in Leadership Award: Rebecca Graham
Our Excellence in Leadership Award is presented annually to an employee who has exhibited proactive leadership and a strong commitment to policies and practices that support quality work and learning environments. This individual demonstrates creativity, fosters a supportive and collegial team environment and demonstrates exemplary relationship building both within and outside of the organization. This award is voted on by the staff team. The recipient of our 2020-2021 is Rebecca Graham, who was also the recipient in 2018.
Rebecca Graham joined the Ability NB team in 2016 as a Transition Planner and was promoted quickly into the position of Team Lead. Her passion is direct services to adults and seniors and she now serves as the Team Lead for our Rehabilitation Counselling services.
Rebecca is an authentic and respected leader: Here’s what her team had to say about her leadership:
“Rebecca is extremely passionate about the work she does, and she never takes no for an answer. She is one of the most caring people I know, and she would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it.”
“Rebecca is a great leader both from a mentor role and a lead by example role. She is always available whenever her staff have a question or need advice and does not ever judge. She puts her staff or service participants in front of herself.”
“She set the bar for one of the best supervisors I will have in my professional career and I’m glad she was mine for my introduction into the real working world. If I am ever given a leadership role I know exactly what approach I will take thanks to her.”
“She loves when other people succeed and has a great ability to help them set up for success. One of my favorite things about Rebecca as a leader is she’s very strong at brainstorming – she does not have all the answers all the time, but she sure knows how to ask good questions to help prompt a response which will usually help solve the question at hand. Working alongside Rebecca is truly a pleasure and I continue to look up to her and admire her work from close by on a daily. A well-deserved award during a year that was definitely challenging to say the least!”