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Mel Hebb Hourglass Award Winners 2015
Encore Award - Will Brewer, Victoria Levack
Access Award - Jim Smithson, Jen Briand
Exeptional Service Award - Amanda McCulloch, Simon McFayden
Andre McConnell Award - Damion Stapledon
About our 2015 winners...
Encore Award 2015:
Will is an exceptional person who makes lasting connections with and impressions on everyone he meets. He has advocated for Team Possibles, Halifax NS Down Syndrome Society HNSDSS, and volunteer Board member of Voices at the Table, a voice for Self-Advocates for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, on behalf of persons with Down Syndrome at and through multiple events, conferences and through his daily interactions. Will is both a person with a disability who has significantly contributed to his community and is also an advocate and supporter of people with Down Syndrome and organizations that support people with Down Syndrome.
Will’s services to his community include duties as host and MC at public events, including Walk with Friends Event, advocate, liaison between community groups, board member and representative at provincial and national DS organizations, correspondence and communications and raising public awareness through many media interviews. Will is also an artist, photographer, active Team Possibles and Team City Art Hive leader, actor (starring as Corker in Wendy Lill’s 2012 production by the same name), special Olympics athlete, member of Friday Night Socials and The Club. Will has also forged ties for Team Possibles and the Down Syndrome Community with Saint Mary’s University Enactus Business Students, and faculty, and is completing a job skills program, excited to enhance his business skills.
Will is forever focused on the rights of persons with DS and disabilities to be seen as people first and to celebrate their unique abilities. He demonstrates great pride and love for his community through all he does. But most importantly William MacPherson Brewer is an amazing, all rounded awesome human being with endless love, kindness, patience and compassion for everyone he meets.
Vicky grew up in Berwick with her Dad Mark, her Stepmom Joan and her younger sister Erica. Vicky was taught from a very young age that she was going to have to learn to advocate for herself and what her rights were when it came to her disability. She currently lives in Arborstone Enhanced Care in Halifax and is now using the knowledge she gained to help others. She cofounded an advocacy group called independence Now Nova Scotia. The objective of this group is to work with government to help them provide more age-appropriate, long-term care facilities for young adults. Vicky is also a published romance author, and social butterfly.
In terms of school, VICKY is pursuing a degree in women's studies, and hopes to become a counselor for abuse victims in women's shelters.
Access Award 2015:
Jim Smithson, general manager of Cineplex Cinemas Dartmouth Crossing, formed a partnership with Affirmative Ventures in the summer of 2014 in order to explore how his business could become more inclusive. He rejects oppressive training methods that do not allow for accommodations and encourages new ways of viewing productivity. This outlook supports the notion that employers must draw on the strength of their employees, of varying abilities, in order to celebrate individual diversity.
Mr. Smithson leads his team, comprised of over 65 employees, with respect, support and empowerment. It is because of him that Cineplex Cinemas Dartmouth Crossing has started challenging traditional policies, procedures and training programs. By continuing to create more employment opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities he has entered a larger discourse centered on equal opportunity.
Jen has worked avidly to create opportunities for young people to have fulfilling experiences in dance for over eight years. She set up the Inclusive Movement courses at Halifax Dance, ran the Dance Club at Halifax Dance in partnership with SCRI Society "The Club" for over two years and has volunteered and run many dance programs with young people who have different abilities at Halifax Dance and The Club. She has helped young people access mainstream programming and provided the support that people need to access high quality dance programming. Jen's work has inspired so many young people with diverse abilities to express themselves through the arts.
Exceptional Service Award 2015:
As a volunteer coach for both recreational and competitive Boccia in Halifax Metro, Amanda has taken the sport to new levels of achievement and consistently strives for the active involvement of youth with disabilities in the sport. Her interaction with players has always been done with the utmost level of caring, compassion and professionalism, and her dedication to providing this recreational activity to youth with disabilities has been without fail. Amanda is also an active Committee Member of the Boccia Association of Nova Scotia and working with other members of the Committee, has actively participated in Boccia demonstrations in other areas of the Province to help the sport.
Simon, better known as DJ Ace, is a youth community member that continues to go above and beyond his mandated duties in order to celebrate and encourage youth with disabilities.
Simon volunteered his musical services for the Art of Disability festival in July of 2014 but quickly became involved in all aspects of the event planning. His participation and ideas centered on how the Art of Disability festival could improve by way of increasing the participation of youth with disabilities. Simon brought to the team his positive attitude, incredible work ethic and infinite suggestions. His vast connections in the Halifax non-profit and musical community also helped promote the event by reaching a wider audience. Simon’s role as a volunteer was instrumental to the success of this event.
Simon has a long history of volunteering in his community, from the Canada Games, Tall Ships and the Blue Nose marathon to community events such as the Northern Lights Lantern Festival in the North End, Dartmouth’s Pirate Days and Halifax’s Parade of Lights.
Over the past two years, Simon has dedicated much of his time to developing his DJing skills, and continues to hone his craft with the help of his mentor, DJ Ronnie Medley. Simon’s increasing popularity as a DJ, particularly within the disability community, is a testament to his hard work and passion for DJing. Simon continues to volunteer at the The Club (SCRI Society) where he got his start as a DJ and also works part-time at the Halifax Association for Community Living.
Andre McConnell Award 2015:
In 2004, Damion began his career with the Halifax Regional Municipality. During his time at HRM Damion created the Accessibility Committee for the Recreation Department, developed the Playbook, A Guide to Sport and Recreation Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in Nova Scotia, sits as a staff member on the Accessibility Advisory Committee for HRM and over the past 4 years has developed a new policy and framework for HRM Recreation: A policy and framework that is based on feedback from the disability community, is based on Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with disabilities and from best practices across Canada. Damion is currently the chair of the Recreation for ALL foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to receive, manage, distribute, and administer a fund to charitable organizations and municipalities that are pursuing programs, initiatives, capacity building and research designed to reduce and eliminating barriers to participation in recreational opportunities caused by poverty, distance, disability, the built environment and/or culture. Damion’s drive to see a more accessible Nova Scotia was heightened in 2007, when his nephew (who will be 8 on June 16) was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Damion, his wife Carolyn and their two children, Eden and Bodhi spend a lot of time with Van and his family. They get to see firsthand why fully participating in ones’ community is so important.