A businessman, an environmental advocate and two supporters of adults with disorders have been honoured as recipients of this year’s Mayor’s Awards.
“It is a great privilege for me to recognize these four individuals and share their stories with the community,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. This year’s honourees are “inspiring examples of how one person really can make a difference,” she said in a news release.
Farbridge presented each of them with a photograph of Market Square by Kim Lawrence. The presentations were made during the Guelph Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards of Excellence gala on June 26.
In 2004, Andrew Bloomfield hosted a discussion group with two men who, like him, have severe autism, cannot speak and communicate using various types of keyboards, the release said.
This led to the birth of the Bridges-Over-Barriers group, which today has members from all over southern Ontario and beyond. It is one of very few support groups of its kind in the world, the release said.
“Autistic adults are often assumed to be of low intelligence, incapable of literacy, or lacking in thoughts or feelings,” it said. Bloomfield “invalidates all of those assumptions” and “gives us insight into his life with striking images and phrases” in 140 poems that he has published in three collections.
For more than 20 years, Charles Cecile has been an active volunteer for Nature Guelph, previously known as Guelph Field Naturalists. A trained ecologist, he has provided a knowledgeable and respected voice in advocating for the protection of Guelph’s natural heritage system, the release said.
On behalf of Nature Guelph, he has devoted countless hours to thoroughly reviewing development applications, visiting and reviewing the sites of proposed developments, and commenting on their environmental implications, it said. He is “not afraid to be persistent when he finds a development to be inappropriate, but in equal measure he voices support when he finds a development to be well-planned and respectful of the environment.”
There were few resources available for adults with ADHD when Alina Kislenko, a therapist who has the disorder herself, moved to Guelph in 2007, the release said. Since then, she has created a thriving community with many different service options and peer supports.
The University of Guelph graduate has said her goal is to provide resources not only to deal with the negative “side effects” of ADHD, but also to help embrace ADHD and all the gifts it brings. Through her professional and volunteer efforts, she “has helped to increase well-being for people in the ADHD community in Guelph and beyond,” the release said.
Over the past 30 years, Phil Greenway has been at the helm of a number of local family-owned and operated businesses, including Danby Products Ltd., Cocoon Development Corporation, Greenway Home Products and Greenway Group Global Strategies. “As a business mentor to many in the community, he has helped build a stronger and more connected business community in Guelph,” the release said.
As well, Greenway’s volunteer contributions are extensive. He “has been unfailingly generous in sharing his considerable expertise, knowledge and leadership talents with local individuals, organizations and projects,” it said.
merit seven awards
The city’s Barrier Free Committee has handed out seven awards for outstanding contributions by groups and individuals towards better accessibility.
“Thank you for your role in recognizing the leaders in our community who are making a real difference,” Mayor Karen Farbridge said after Julie Goodwin presented the awards at the start of the last council meeting.
These were the Access Recognition Awards handed out:
• Outstanding Contribution of an Organization – 2Rivers Festival Group, represented by Sue Rietschin and Patti Maurice, was recognized for modifying its program to eliminate mobility barriers. This included choosing accessible venues, marking these on festival brochures and being open to suggestions on how to improve accessibility, Goodwin said
• Outstanding Contribution of an Organization – Hillside Festival, represented by Marie Zimmerman, has become a model for other organizations looking to improve accessibility of outdoor events, Goodwin said. Hillside “also supplies ear plugs in an effort to prevent hearing loss,” she noted
• Outstanding Contribution of an Organization – Guelph Soccer, represented by Mauricio and Rubin Flores, was recognized for offering a modified program for children with disabilities to teach them the basics of soccer
• Outstanding Contribution of an Organization – the community-based program known as Diabetes Care Guelph, represented by Sam Marzouk, Ross Kirkconnell and Dr. Steven Traplin, was honoured for its work in offering a variety of services and addressing problems associated with diabetes. It provides home visits and has four locations across the city
• Outstanding Contribution of an Organization – the Athletic Centre and the Physical Resources Departments at the University of Guelph, represented by Justin Selby, was recognized for removing a significant barrier to women and children by installing automatic door openers for women’s change rooms. Among its users are females who have had strokes or joint replacements or are undergoing chemotherapy
• Outstanding Contribution of an Individual – This award was presented to Jean McClelland, who has chaired the city’s Barrier Free Committee for several years. She has shown “a life-long commitment to empowering people with a disability,” Goodwin said
• Outstanding Contribution of an Individual – Community of Hearts co-founders Andrea Kretz, Jason Dudgeon and Susan Wahlroth were recognized for their work with the organization. It provides structured programs to help people with intellectual disabilities work towards independence, as well as giving them opportunities for recreational and social engagement.