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Friday, December 4, 2009

Variety Village - The happiest place in Toronto!

Yesterday the City of Toronto declared December 3, 2009 to be International Day of People with Disabilities.  There was a terrific celebration at Variety Village in Toronto's East end.  If you've ever been there, I dare you to say that it isn't ONE OF THE HAPPIEST PLACES ON EARTH.  Sorry Disney, these folks have you beat without the aid of castles, Magic Kingdoms, princesses, theme parks etc.

As soon as you walk through the doors there is a feeling of positivity. My entire posture changed in response to the wonderful energy.  I was uplifted!  I was so thankful for that moment in my heart and throughout my body.  I encourage you read up on Variety - The Children's Chairty, they do some amazing work for people with disabilities. 

Months ago, I nominated one of my volunteers at Surrey Place Centre for an Unsung Hero Award as part of the International Day of People with Disabilities celebrations.  Rachel Gallone, a woman who inspires me every time we interact, received one of six Unsung Hero Awards yesterday.  Here's what her nomination said:

Rachel’s Story
When Rachel was growing up, she was extremely frustrated most of the time. She found it difficult to accept that a virus she had contracted at a young age - Meningitis Encephalitis - had caused her development to become delayed.

Through the support of family and a wide network of counselors, Rachel’s journey led her to Surrey Place Centre. Her direct involvement with the Centre has provided Rachel the opportunity to learn new coping skills that have enabled her to effectively deal with life’s challenges.

Rachel is a part of the Self-Advocacy Council at Surrey Place Centre. The Surrey Place Centre Self-Advocacy Council was established to ensure that clients have representation with regards to the services the Centre provides. Council members are individuals who have or are receiving the services of Surrey Place Centre and who have a developmental disability. They provide recommendations and feedback on behalf of clients of the Centre and advice on issues, concerns, direct policy and procedures that affect people with developmental disabilities. As a Self-advocate, she has travelled across Ontario delivering the message that people with disabilities have a voice and want to be heard.

Rachel has made new friends and expanded her network of support and participates in a number of Surrey Place Centre fundraising events, including getinline.

Rachel was the Honourary Spokesperson for getinline 2008. When asked what it means to share this responsibility with Andrew this year, she says, “I’m thrilled to be part of this event again and happy to be able to share the responsibilities with my friend Andrew.”

As an active fundraiser for Surrey Place Centre, Rachel wants to help out because of how much she’s been helped.

She says that her fundraising efforts, which include an annual Penny Drive, give her a “sense of accomplishment, because the money raised doesn’t only help one person, it helps lots of people in many ways.”

Basically, Rachel rocks!  Congrats to her and to everyone else who was part of yesterday's fesitivities.  What an inspiring day!

Here's Rachel with The Right Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario just after the awards ceremony.

Where is the happiest place in Toronto for you?


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It's so nice to hear from you! Hope your day is a lovely one!