Laura Campbell was one of eight people to receive the Community Living BC Widening Our World award in 2020. (Courtesy of Laura Campbell)

Laura Campbell was one of eight people to receive the Community Living BC Widening Our World award in 2020. (Courtesy of Laura Campbell)

Victoria woman earns provincial award for work with differently abled adults

Widening our World awards recognize community, inclusivity building

Knowing the importance of routine to the differently abled adults she works with on a daily basis, Laura Campbell was quick to adapt to online activities when COVID-19 forced her in-person program to close.

She is one of eight B.C. residents who received 2020 Community Living BC Widening our World awards, intended to celebrate individuals who are making their communities more inclusive.

Campbell is the program coordinator at Good Neighbours and organizes day services for Greater Victoria adults with disabilities. Normally, participants attend programming five days a week for five to six hours a day. It’s something both participants and their caregivers depended heavily upon. So, when in-person programming was shut down for four months, Campbell knew she had to act.

RELATED: Pandemic raises stakes for B.C. residents with intellectual disabilities

“My aim was to do as much as I could to bring a bit of normalcy,” she said. Her and a colleague quickly took to YouTube to provide weekly Zumba classes and baking videos. Campbell also went on a giant shopping spree and delivered “ninja bags” of activity and colouring books and beach toys to participant’s homes with a note wishing them well. For those who were interested, she conducted Zoom calls so participants could stay in touch.

“It was just something nice to connect within our organization,” she said.

Luckily, by mid-July Good Neighbours was able to re-open its in-person programming with a staggered morning and afternoon session system. For participants who are immunocompromised, team members visit them personally for walks, hikes and chats.

Campbell said her job is immensely rewarding. “We give to them, but they give to us more than I think outsiders would think. We always leave with a fun story or good memory.”

Longterm, her goal is to normalize the inclusion of people with disabilities into everyday activities.

Of the eight award recipients, another woman is also from Victoria. Susan Simmons was recognized for her work coordinating an eight-week, 80-kilometre swim for athletes with developmental disabilities from Brentwood Bay to the Colwood Waterfront last August. She is well-known for swimming from Port Angeles to Victoria, across the Haro Strait and other ultra-marathon swims.

RELATED: Eight-week, 80-kilometre swim ends at Esquimalt Lagoon

RELATED: Susan Simmons begins a 24-hour swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back


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