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December 3, 2009
Toronto celebrates International Day of People with Disabilities 2009
The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Councillor Adrian Heaps (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest) took part in Toronto’s fifth annual observance of International Day of People with Disabilities today at Variety Village. Councillor Heaps, Chair of the City’s Disability Issues Committee, read the proclamation for International Day of People with Disabilities.

The City of Toronto, together with community, institutional and private sector partners, mark the day annually designated worldwide by the United Nations. The United Nations’ 2009 theme is “Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world.”

A focal point of the annual event is to celebrate achievements by “unsung heroes.” The Honourable David C. Onley and Councillor Heaps presented awards to the “unsung heroes” who were recognized for their achievements in a wide range of endeavours, including advocacy, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, fundraising, leadership, outreach and public education. The six recipients were Rachel Gallone, Robert Pio Hajjar, Michael Monize, Bobbi Moore, Elio Riggillo and David Swiderski.

The program also included An Invitation to Poetry in which selected poems about various aspects of disability were read by the poets. Invitation to Art, a new initiative this year, attracted 70 artists with disabilities to showcase their work during the event. There were also displays providing information on community and City services and programs that support accessibility.

The Master of Ceremonies of today’s forum was Theo Selles, President and owner of Integrity Works and the former Director of Community Development and Family Services for Epilepsy Toronto.

The City of Toronto thanks its donors, Variety Village, Starbucks Coffee and the generous sponsorship by BMO Financial Group. Organizational supporters of this year’s event include: Anne Johnston Health Station, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, CNIB, the Centre for Independent Living Toronto (CILT), Epilepsy Toronto, Anti-Ableism Committee (Toronto Community Housing Corporation) and Possibilities - Online Employment Resource Centre.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Councillor Adrian Heaps (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest), Chair of the Disability Issues Committee, 416-392- 0213,
Paulos Ioannou, Employment and Social Services, City of Toronto, 416-392-2433,



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