Several Sarnia residents have been recognized for creating inclusive environments and awareness for people with disabilities.
The 11th annual Accessibility Awards ceremony was held at the St. Clair Corporate Centre on Wednesday.
Marika Sylvain-Groendyck was this year's keynote speaker. She was the 2022 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards Inclusivity Award recipient
"It's important to show the community that accessibility is important. We want to make sure that a) people know that it's important, and b) also celebrate the people that are doing the work to ensure everyone in this community is included on an equal basis," said Sylvain-Groendyck.
She also said there's a lot more awareness when it comes to disabilities.
Sylvain-Groendyck owns a public relations firm that focuses on using tools to include people with disabilities. She said in her line of work, it is important to her that communication is accessible to everyone.
"We do our best to not only make sure all of the companies we work with have accessible communications but we also train and build capacity in other organizations and communicators to do the same," Sylvain-Groendyck explained.
The Home Depot's Nanette Jean was recognized for having a large business that created an inclusive environment.
Richard Kelch with Northgate Pharmacy was honoured for creating an inclusive environment for a small business that has less than 50 employees.
Melanie Klyne of Scotiabank, located on Exmouth Street, was awarded for exceptional leadership in customer service.
Robert Esser and Courtney Hind were honoured for forward-thinking inclusive design in built environments after they installed an accessible ramp for IG Wealth Management.
Helen Van Sligtenhorst was recognized for creating a program for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
The Going Above and Beyond Award went to Richard Gilbert with Wellwise by Shoppers Drug Mart.
Michelle Taege received the Outstanding Customer Service in a Social Service Sector Award.
The late Luana Cameron was named this year's recipient of the Kevin Schenk Legacy Award. The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee (SAAC) named the award after the former SAAC member to provide recognition to individuals who live with a disability and inspire the community to make the city more inclusive and accessible. Cameron died in October at the age of 76.
Lastly, John Hagens with Community Living Sarnia-Lambton was honoured with the Trailblazer Award.
The recognition is awarded on a year-to-year basis, celebrating the lifelong passion, commitment, and creativity of individuals who have advocated for and impacted the lives of people with disabilities in Sarnia.
Winner of the Prelude to Excellence for Small Business Award Richard Kelch from North gate Pharmacy at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)Winner of the Exception Leadership in Customer Service Melanie Klyne from Scotiabank on Exmouth Street at 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)Winner of the Exceptional Accessible Physical Environment Award Robert Esser at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)Winner of the Creating Opportunities for an Inclusive Community Award Helen Van Sligtenhorst at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)The winner of the Going Above and Beyond Award Richard Gilbert at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman) Outstanding Customer Service in a Social Service Award Winner Michelle Taege at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)Trailblazer Award Winner John Hagens and Committee member Heather Allen at the 2023 Accessibility Awards (Lindsay Newman)