Three inspiring members of the local community have been recognised for their achievements through the 2022 Geelong Awards for People with Disability.
Presented by the City of Greater Geelong in partnership with genU and supported by the Barwon Disability Resource Council, the award winners were announced during the City’s International Day of People with Disability event on Friday 2 December.
Spread across three categories, this year’s recipients are:
Achievement Award: Ashley McDowell
A long-time genU employee who suffers from anxiety, depression and an auditory processing delay, Ashley has progressed from a supported position to a role as a delivery driver in open employment.
Having overcome his own challenges to make a successful transition into open employment within the organisation, he has now become a role model to other supported employees who are inspired by his achievements.
He has gone on to gain his Medium Rigid License and is continuing to break down barriers and support all employees to reach their goals.
Volunteering Award: Mackenzie Sinclair
Mackenzie is a committed volunteer with the Starlight Children’s Foundation, where she has assisted in running the adolescent program whilst dealing with her own disability and mental health challenges.
More recently, she has been volunteering with Bravery Buddies, assisting in the formation of the ‘Tour for Megan’. The event is in honour of one of Mackenzie’s friends, Megan, who passed away recently (at the age of just 18) to an aggressive form of cancer.
Mackenzie also holds a leadership position at her school and was a student ambassador for The Push Up Challenge, implementing the initiative at the school for the first time.
Leadership and Advocacy Award: Priscila Pettiford
Working in the Employment and Recruitment field, Priscila is an instigator and organiser of change, advocating and campaigning for positive outcomes within the workplace for people with disability.
Living with a hearing impairment and parenting children with disability, Priscila is a positive advocate for inclusive employment, tirelessly fostering the rights for people living with disabilities to be recognised in the community.
For Priscila, the future of an inclusive workplace lies with the realisation and importance of connection. Priscila takes every opportunity to promote a mindset of growth utilising each person’s strengths and values.
Deputy Mayor Anthony Aitken, chair of the Council’s Volunteering and Disability portfolio, presented the awards to each of the winners during Friday’s event at the City’s administrative building Wurriki Nyal.
Deputy Mayor Anthony Aitken:
The calibre of this year’s nominations was extremely high and we were thrilled to recognise and celebrate their achievements.
Congratulations to all award nominees on the contribution they’ve made to our local community, for being community champions for people living with a disability and special shout out to Ashley, Mackenzie and Priscila.
The awards contribute towards the Council’s aim of promoting an inclusive, diverse, healthy and socially connected community in Greater Geelong.
After a short hiatus these awards are now in their seventh year, and the third delivered by the City.