St. Marys, ON, September 6, 2021 — Community Living St. Marys & Area is throwing down a friendly gauntlet and challenging the Town of St. Marys, the City of Stratford and all businesses in both these municipalities to light up their buildings purple and blue for one historic night in October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
“We want all our local businesses, and the Town of St. Marys and the City of Stratford, to be part of the first-ever national Light It Up! For NDEAMTM, says Kelly Boudreau, Employment Facilitator, Community Living St. Marys.
“By participating, they’ll be recognizing all the ways people with disabilities who live in our region contribute to our local businesses and industries, and to our community as a whole.”
Light It Up! For NDEAM is a one-night-only, coordinated special lighting event happening across Canada on Thursday, October 21.
The event was started last year by the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), of which Community Living St. Marys is a member. The first Light It Up! For NDEAM was Ontario wide.
This year, it’s going national through collaboration between ODEN, The Canadian Association for Supported Employment, MentorAbility Canada and many community-based agencies across the country like Community Living St. Marys.
Light It Up! For NDEAM recognizes NDEAM, how people with disabilities help companies be successful, and the business and economic importance of the disability talent pool and disability-inclusive hiring.
City and town halls, office buildings, bridges, famous landmarks, federal government buildings and interactive municipal signs across the nation are being specially lit purple and blue. Structures scheduled to be lit include The Supreme Court of Canada, the CN Tower and the Calgary Tower; city halls in Halifax, Kingston, ON, and Red Deer and Lethbridge AB; and interactive municipal signs in Timmins, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa.
Here in Southwestern Ontario, the City of Sarnia will be lighting City Hall; and the City of London is lighting City Hall, The Fountain at the Forks and the J.A. Taylor Building. The Canada Life building in London, and RBC London Place, are also participating in Light It Up! For NDEAM.
Boudreau is leading the local drive to get businesses in the Stratford and St. Marys areas participating in Light It Up! For NDEAM.
“Light It Up! For NDEAM is a historic first that we’re excited to be involved by promoting it to our local employers and municipalities,” says Boudreau. “There’s never been anything like this, and on this scale, for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It’s a great way for our local businesses to be part of a national event and show their local commitment to disability inclusion.”
Community Living St. Marys & Area will be lighting up their building. Boudreau has contacted the local St. Marys BIA and the Rotary Club to “shed a bit more light” on inclusive hiring and will be presenting to both these groups and offering her assistance in any way she can with hiring local talent. Kelly also would like to put out a challenge to residential homes to join in and shine a blue & purple light in your yard or window.
Says Marg McLean, Executive Director of Community Living St. Marys & Area, “Access to employment is still a barrier for people with disabilities, including people in both the St. Marys and Stratford areas. Light It Up! For NDEAM helps us at Community Living St. Marys & Area keep the conversation about disability and employment going with local businesses.”
This is important, McLean says, because there are many small businesses in St. Marys and Stratford. A 2017 study by the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work found that 73% of small businesses have never hired people with disabilities because they don’t know how to access this largely “hidden” talent pool.
Both Boudreau and McLean believe Light it Up! For NDEAM will do a lot to raise awareness about disability inclusion in local businesses.
“It’s literally going to shine light on disability-inclusive hiring and the benefits of it,” says Boudreau. “If half the businesses in St. Marys and Stratford participate in Light It Up! For NDEAM, that will be fantastic.
“But to me, as an Employment Facilitator, what will be even more significant is the ‘buzz’ generated that will keep conversation going. That can lead to more employment opportunities for people with disabilities here in our community.”
“This is the most important thing,” adds McLean, “because The United Nations has said that access to employment is a basic human right for everyone.”
Boudreau notes that ODEN has created “a great” Light It Up! For NDEAM web page where local businesses can find out more details about the event and where it’s happening, and submit their business or workplace as a participating location. There’s also a Light It Up! For NDEAM PR Kit local businesses can use to promote the event with their employees, and to other businesses.
For more information and interview requests, contact:
Kelly Boudreau, Employment Facilitator, Community Living St. Marys
firstname.lastname@example.org 519-284-1400, ext. 246
Marg McLean, Executive Director, Community Living St. Marys
email@example.com 519-284-1400, ext. 225
Light It Up! For NDEAMTM is a trademark of The Ontario Disability Employment Network.