Her Excellency Sharon Johnston - LiveWorkPlay’s Annual General Meeting and Presentation of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award
Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, September 19, 2014
My husband David, the present governor general, has asked all Canadians to join him in contributing time, talent or treasure to making our nation smart and caring.
I’d like to talk briefly about these attributes (Smart and Caring) that are exemplified by LiveWorkPlay.
We are all smart at something but usually not everything. You, the volunteers, find the talent or smartness that each individual possesses and help him or her to use it.
I’d like to share the story of Jilly who wrote a book on discovering how smart she was. I shall leave the book with you.
Jilly was a young girl with fetal alcohol syndrome that made parts of her brain not work very well. But loving teachers and her devoted aunt discovered Jilly’s very special talents. She was sociable and organized and hard working so she was appointed the class marshal. Her classmates looked up to her, not for math skills that she didn’t have, but for her leadership.
LiveWorkPlay is a small but smart organization using its resources strategically to reach its goal of giving every individual a worthy place in society.
Recently, I visited the Amity Foundation Bakery in Nanjing. This independent voluntary organization is China’s first business entity to provide training and job opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.
I sent my famous recipe for cinnamon buns and baked the buns alongside three trainees who were working at the bakery. These individuals were learning a new trade, contributing to their community and were being included in the workplace as valued employees.
I am here today to thank those who do their best and, like Jilly, use their special talents. But I’m also here to recognize the volunteers with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Your work, dedication and ongoing commitment to helping the community welcome people with intellectual disabilities to live, work and play as valued citizens is truly commendable.
Your organization’s theory of social change contributes to a smart and caring nation. I am taken by your approach and methodology. For me, this represents an example of what can be done when “smart” and “caring” are joined together.
I am so pleased to learn more about what you all do. This will enable me to share your wonderful programs with others across the country.