VANCOUVER – For their leadership within their own organization and the sector, Spectrum Society for Community Living co-directors Susan Stanfield, Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg and Ernie Baatz are being recognized with this year’s Big Picture Award.
The annual award ceremony is presented by Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) and posAbilities, and honours leaders and change-makers in the Community Living movement.
BACI co-executive director Richard Faucher co-presented the award with posAbilities program director Gord Tulloch.
Richard applauds Spectrum Society for their leadership in recognizing the talents and strengths of people who have a disability. Gord commends the Vancouver organization’s leaders for being soulful, thoughtful, innovative and visionary.
“They are the sort of people you want to individually emulate and they also provide leadership not only to their own organization but also the sector,” Gord told the audience. “And they’ve done so for as long as I’ve been in services, which is over 20 years.”
Upon receiving the award, Susan reflected on how far the Community Living movement has come since she and her peers started Spectrum more than 25 years ago. At that time, the service system was in a massive state of transition, as the province prepared to close its institutions that housed people who have a disability. It’s been 17 years since BC’s last institution Woodlands closed.
Now, Susan says the system is in another state of transition as youth who have grown up without experiencing institutions prepare to enter adult services.
“It’s really nice, exciting and inspiring . . . to have colleagues who are as excited as us about the possibilities for the future,” she tells the audience.
Both Ernie and Aaron recognized the dedicated staff at Spectrum Society as instrumental to the organization’s success.
In addition to the award ceremony, the evening showcased people who have a disability’s talents featuring a variety show with songs, performances, and short video clips made by Stage Door Theatre Troupe.
Nineteen year-old Ryan Chilton was one of the live performers, and agrees it was inspiring to play in front of a large audience, singing crowd favourites like Barenaked Ladies “If I Had $1,000,000.”
“This is the first time performing on my guitar and piano in front of other people like this, a big crowd in Vancouver, it’s so awesome,” he says.
BACI member Jordanna Pratt had the 200 audience members laughing with an entertaining comedy skit.
“I’m always nervous right before a performance but then I’m fine. It’s good to be nervous because it keeps you calm and keeps you focused,” she tells BACI Blast.
The evening’s grand finale was British Columbia’s premiere screening of The Story of Luke, an award-winning comedy about Luke, a young man with autism who is on a quest for a job and a girlfriend.
The evening also received support from Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture.
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