Jason Rae honoured for community service
Dedicated advocate receives Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal
Thursday October 18, 2012 -- Kristian Partington
In early September, a message was left on Jason Rae’s phone urging him to call Northumberland-Quinte West MP Rick Norlock and when he did, Norlock informed him that he’d been chosen to receive one of 30 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals reserved for the riding.
Jason was taken aback.
“It was kind of like a shock to me,” says the soft-spoken Campbellford resident who’s been a strong advocate for the rights of people who have a disability in the region.
He volunteers in the area and sits on the board with Community Living Campbellford Brighton, where executive director Nancy Brown says he’s a fine example of what it means to be dedicated to your community.
He’s a humble award recipient and says it’s a little overwhelming to be chosen out of 125,000 people in the area to receive one of only 30 available awards.
The medals are a part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations which mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne, and are given to Canadians who embody the spirit of devotion to the betterment of their community and country.
When asked why he believes he was chosen, he points to more than 15 years of volunteerism and the fact that he broke a barrier 12 years ago when he became the first local community living board president who has an intellectual disability.
He was also elected to the Community Living Ontario board, where he was never shy about voicing his views as a self-advocate, and worked hard to press for changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program to encourage plain language on application forms.
He still sits on the Community Living Campbellford Brighton board today as a director, and he is actively involved with ACE (Advocates for Community Education).
Since he began volunteering and working on disability issues, he says progress has been made towards a wider understanding of what gifts and contributions people who have a disability bring to their community, but there’s always more work to be done.
A major focus moving forward, he says, is helping employers understand the value of inclusive hiring.
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