A true community is one that can be maximally enjoyed by all members of that community. Each year, the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities NL presents four Inclusion Awards to highlight the important work being done by community champions across the province.

This year’s Inclusion Award for Media went to Julie Brocklehurst, proprietor of the blog, Tiptoeing Through. The award recognizes someone who has clearly demonstrated their professional commitment to encourage, welcome, and support persons with disabilities by ensuring a balanced, dignified,  and respectful portrayal of disability issues and persons with disabilities in the media.

“This award has been sponsored by Ellsworth Estates and we are very pleased to present this award to Julie Brocklehurst,” say COD-NL, “ for her resource development and promotion of disability awareness through her chosen form of media: an outstanding blog called Tiptoeing Through.”

The depth and scope of the blog explores inclusion and accessibility in our province, and it continuously exposes readers to a level of normalcy and awareness that isn’t often expressed in mainstream media outlets.

Tiptoeing Through covers significant events and happenings in the quest for more inclusive communities, alongside deeply personal stories about herself and her family life, living with a child with complex disabilities.

“By exposing the public to such varied and intimate, but also broad societal messages,” says COD-NL, ” Julie creates a strong position to break down barriers, fears, and stigmas associated with having a child with disabilities. Tiptoeing Through not only focuses on the personal stories that many blogs feature, it  ensures balanced messaging and exposure to bigger issues around inclusion … Tiptoeing Through is … also a great source of information around the latest technological advancements that work for children with lived experience with disabilities. Julie’s posts provide thoughtful and balanced information useful to many.”

From quality of life resources for persons with disabilities to sharing events like International Day of Persons with Disabilities, if there is a timely topic to raise awareness for, or celebrate persons with disabilities, Julie’s blog is on it.

City Tire and Auto (Topsail Road) won the Inclusion Award for Business, for their commitment to inclusive hiring practices. The Award is given to a business that has gone above and beyond to foster inclusion in our province. It also recognizes the efforts of a local business to advance the principles of inclusion. “Businesses play an active role in creating more inclusive communities for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when they advocate for and include persons with disabilities, ” says COD-NL. “City Tire & Auto has gone above and beyond to show strong support for Visions Employment Plus Inc. and ongoing efforts to be an inclusive business employer.”

The Award for an Individual went to Edward Sawdon, whose resume reads like that of our community’s biggest hero. The award recognizes the dedication of an individual who has chosen to champion inclusion in our province. Sawdon has been involved as a member and volunteer with the Independent Living Resource Centre (now Empower), the St. John’s Ostomy Chapter, CHANNAL (the Consumers Health Awareness Network – Newfoundland & Labrador), CMHA-NL (the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland & Labrador), the Pottle Centre and the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD). While Ed was CHANNAL Regional Coordinator for St. John’s Region for four years between 2004-2010, he was also the CHANNAL representative on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the Provincial Legislative Stakeholder Committee on the New Mental Health and Treatment Act and Patient’s Rights Adviser Committee and the CSC’s Vibrant Communities/Citizen’s Voice. He has received nine awards in the disability community, including the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.

WorkplaceNL won in the Inclusion Award for an Organization, an award that recognizes the outstanding efforts of an organization to advance and support inclusion in our province. WorkplaceNL was nominated for this award “because of the agency’s strong commitment to ensuring access and inclusion for visitors, clients, and staff at WorkplaceNL locations in the province.” WorkplaceNL participated in an accessibility audit of their locations on the island (St. John’s, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook) and worked with COD-NL to authentically identify their current level of accessibility. “The intention of the agency to be fully accessible and inclusive was clearly demonstrated as audit personnel were permitted access to all areas of the building, and staff with specific concerns were encouraged to speak in confidence to the audit team.”