Kitchener-Waterloo has always been home to Paula Saunders. She and her husband, Paul, have raised their three children here, and now welcome their six grandchildren whenever possible.
Paula has been a staff member of the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region (ILCWR) since 1988. In her current capacity as Director of Access and Awareness, she works to remove barriers facing people with disabilities in Waterloo Region, and make her community a leader in accessibility. Currently, Paula’s community involvement includes serving on the Board of Directors for Independent Living Canada, and membership on the CTV Southwestern Ontario Diversity Committee and the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Independent living is an important philosophy to Paula, and she strives to make an independent lifestyle possible for people with disabilities in her community. Working with individuals to help them reach their goals and achieve their independence is what she strives for, and she is especially passionate about barrier-free design and access to all spaces for all people.
Paula’s contribution to her community has been recognized frequently by friends, colleagues and government officials. Most recently, Paula received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal which was presented to her in December, 2012 by Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr.
The Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region (ILCWR) celebrated 30 years in our community in 2012. ILCWR was the first Independent Living Centre in Canada; there are now 27 centres across the country.
Every day, the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region provides in-home attendant services to hundreds of individuals with physical disabilities in our community. These services are entirely consumer-directed, and are designed to help with activities of daily living.
ILCWR also offers Access and Awareness programs, which aim to help people with disabilities navigate community resources and services, and become advocates for themselves. Through our Individual Advocacy, Information and Referral, Youth in Transition and Peer Resource programs, ILCWR equips people of all abilities with the skills they need to participate fully in their community.
In addition, our Public Awareness and Education program strives to remove barriers in Waterloo Region. ILCWR staff members perform audits to identify accessibility issues and assess the overall accessibility of both private- and public-sector spaces. Also, ILCWR staff provide training and learning opportunities to businesses, organizations and students on topics including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the benefits of inclusive and accessible communities. One of our most popular programs, Kids on the Block, uses the entertainment of puppet shows to teach children about the nature of disability and the value of difference.
Thank you to Box 13 for the honour of being the charity of choice for this wonderful event.