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Mom, artistic director learns inclusion requires courage

While vacationing on a beach in Tofino, Susanna Uchatius watched as a group of children approached her little girl who has a developmental disability and asked her a question.

When her daughter, who has a challenge with communicating vocally, responded, the children ran away.

Susanna began to cry and wanted to run over and scoop up her daughter in her arms. She fought the urge and hid behind her book instead.

A few minutes later the children returned with toys and grabbed her daughter by the hand and scooted her off to play.

Susanna learned that day, now nearly 30 years ago, that being inclusive requires courage.

The Theatre Terrific artistic director is the recipient of a Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) Inclusion Through Innovation Award.

Susanna accepted the award during BACI’s Feb. 28 general meeting in Burnaby.

“It was a total surprise,” Susanna says about the honour.

“I had no idea at all. I love the idea of innovation through inclusion.”

BACI saluted Susanna for ensuring the theatre company brings together professional and emerging artists of all abilities — with or without developmental, physical or mental health issues, gender or language challenges.

“She embodies the message of inclusion through her writing, producing and directing of the numerous pieces she’s done,” Tanya Sather, BACI co-executive director, recently told the BACI Blast.

“The plays that Theatre Terrific produces are riveting, unique, authentic, humorous, dramatic and of the highest possible standard. They present universal humanity on the stage — a humanity that includes us all as members of the great unfolding continuum that is the human story.”

Susanna says it’s “very fulfilling” to be acknowledged by BACI. “There’s something about being recognized by a community that is inclusive.”

She says the award is a testament to Theatre Terrific as a whole. “It’s a reflection on the work we do, pushing the boundaries and blazing new trails,” Susanna says.

“It’s something to celebrate.”

The Inclusion Through Innovation Awards salute community members and organizations for their contribution to inclusion.

Read more by clicking here.

You can comment on this story below, or e-mail the writer, Natalie Hamilton, at natalie(at)axiomnews.ca.

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