Friday, June 18, 2010

Louise joins the Circle of Honour

On Wed. night I received a Circle of Honour Award for advocacy for my work with BLOOM. The Circle of Honour is Holland Bloorview’s highest award for people who make the world a better place for kids with disabilities and their families. This award was very special to me because I was nominated by two parents. At the event they showed a video that included comments from a number of BLOOM readers. I wanted to share my speech with you.

I’m honoured and humbled to receive this award.

Katharine Harrison and Alison Bowen, the parents who nominated me, wrote about how the word advocate means: To summon a voice.

I’ve always felt that it was through my experience raising my son Ben that I found a voice I didn’t know I had.

It takes courage to parent a child with disabilities in a culture that still largely views disability as a tragedy.

And it’s because we’re determined, as parents, that the world see our kids the way we see them – that we become natural advocates.

But I think it’s fair to say that every person in this room is an advocate in the work they do to ensure that every child who walks through our doors leads a rich life.

There’s something truly unique about Bloorview – about the people who work here and our values – and I think BLOOM is a natural extension of that.

Our vision of possibility is radical in that it takes us beyond society’s limited definition of success to acknowledge the beauty and contribution of every child.

People here welcome diversity, they value different ways of doing things, they see opportunities that aren’t immediately apparent. Those qualities are remarkable and rare. We can’t underestimate their power.

I’d like to thank the leadership of the organization, our staff and our families for creating the kind of environment where BLOOM could thrive. I’d like to recognize Sara Purves, our designer extraordinaire. She’s created the kind of stunningly beautiful publication that our families deserve.

And I’d like to thank my Dad. He didn’t have a lot of experience with disability, but he taught me the value of every human life, and I think that’s why I feel so at home here.


Congratulations!! So well deserved and such a nice speech!!!

Congratulations on this, Louise! Your speech was perfect -- I'm so happy that you were recognized for all the work you done on behalf of children with disabilities. It must be a welcome relief from all that you've been through in your own personal life the last few months.

Congratulations, Louise! I'm so glad you've been recognized for your amazing contribution to us all.

Congratulations Louise! It is a well deserved award and I am so terribly grateful for all that you do! Congratulations again!♥

Congratulations! Great stuff and well deserved. Nice speech too!

As others have said, well deserved!!!

I also like the speech a lot, it never occurred to me but yes, I have also discovered a voice I didn't know had, wow, hadn't thought of it like that before.

Congratulations Louise! Well deserved

Dearest Louise,

Although I will never have the pleasure of meeting or knowing your father, I do, wholeheartedly, believe that by becoming a member of the “Circle of Honour”, one of Bloorview’s most prestigious awards, “You have surpassed his greatest wishes and expectations by not merely noticing or learning ‘the value of every human life’, but by advocating for the ‘recognition and acceptance of a common humanity which lives in everyone.’”

Without you, "I would most likely forget this."

Congratulations and thank you,

Matt Kamaratakis

Thank you everyone for your kind words!

Matt, my Dad died a year ago, at age 88. He was an incredible man. I'm glad that his outlook on life lives on.

Me too, Louise. Me too!

I'll email you later, as the only thing that's been on my mind is you and Ben, and how I can help? Truth be told, "Maybe, we can help each other?"

Alex also died last year. She helped me realize the sancity of my life (disability and all), and I in turn, like you, have learned the value of every human life and a common humanity which we all share. I think your Dad would have loved the following words, as did Alex: "When one invests in the life of another, regardless of the outcome, they truly win." Please, say hi to Ben for me.

Thank you for all that you continue to give, as although we are writers, it's more than words can say.

Forever yours,

Matt Kamaratakis


Louise, my daughter just had her first intake at Bloorview last Monday. I blogged about it and then was asked "So, you must know THE Louise" Sadly, I have yet to meet you, but your strength and voice gives us as parents something to look forward to. I too have become an advocate for my daughter (She's almost 2 with spastic diplegia CP). I'm thrilled to have Bloorivew as part of our "team" in working with Jillian.

Congratulations and many thanks for all you do,

I'm fortunate to work with you, Louise, on a daily basis. Your compassion and commitment is very tangible in the life and energy you bring in to the office every day. The Circle of Honour award is well deserved.

This is wonderful Louise I am so proud of you. You are the perfect recipient of such an award.


Welcome Cheryl and thanks for your kind words. Hope we get to hear more about Jillian!

Louise, I am so happy for you. You totally deserve this award. You inspire me every time we speak. You show such commitment to Ben and to the other families you help every day.

Andrea Boulden


Congratulations! Your magazine and blog are inspiring. And your work is helping communities to change in positive ways. I recently brought in your article about Lemon and Allspice Cookery to a meeting of service providers and parents. What a great example of an innovative business that showcases abilities, social justice and community. Wonder if such as venture could be created in my city? All the best. Hoping we can actually meet in person soon! Amy Baskin

Dear Louise,
I can think of no one more deserving of this award than you. You are a very special person, and both you and D'Arcy are incredible parents. Thanks for sharing your experiences and wisdom with us all.

Your friend,
Rhonda Jacobson

Louise, I love BLOOM. The stories, anecdotes, and resources that you pull together are a constant source of inspiration and guidance. I love the way you look at things and the new perspectives that you introduce. I must say that most of the staff I've met at Bloorview "make the world a better place for kids with disabilities and their families". But you, Louise are an exceptional communicator, a brilliant woman, and a fabulous mother. Congratulations.

Congratulations Louise! I only wish I had nominated you as well. I love reading your articles, they are very inspiring.

Goodness, I'm touched by all of these beautiful messages.

I'm very grateful for my connections with each one of you! I don't think I really understood the power of our 'community' before. Heartfelt thanks!