City Announces winners of the 2020 Celebrating Accessibility Awards

November 27, 2020

On Dec. 3, the City will honour the above-and-beyond efforts of three Kingston organizations - educators, businesses and volunteers - through a virtual 2020 Celebrating Accessibility Awards ceremony.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize and celebrate the outstanding individuals in our community that make Kingston more inclusive for everyone,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “We want to be a city where everyone can fully engage in a meaningful way, without barriers, and these are the people making the vision a reality! Thank you to all the winners and nominees for going above and beyond to make Kingston a better place for everyone!” 

Plan to tune in to the City’s virtual 2020 Celebrating Accessibility Awards on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on the City of Kingston YouTube channel.

2020 Winners

And the 2020 winners of the Celebrating Accessibility Awards are (by category):

Business Category

Cindy MacQueen, a dental hygienist, supports her clients, who have intellectual disabilities and often accompanying physical or medical challenges, to receive dental and gum care in the comfort of their own home.  Many are afraid to go to the dentist due to past trauma.  Cindy enables them to receive this much-needed service professionally and safely in their familiar surroundings, often visiting several times before an exam and treatment. That way she knows when they are stressed and uses various techniques to lessen their anxiety during the process. Cindy also works with local dental clinics to develop individual treatment plans should her clients require follow-up dental care.

Community Member Category

Valera Castanov, a Queen’s medical student, founded KHealth – Kingston’s Community Health Initiative ( – a large interprofessional student group, focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Kingston’s community, and breaking down accessibility barriers for those in need. Valera launched KHealth’s Community Support Program at the outset of the pandemic to help deliver groceries, essential supplies and help run minor errands for those unable to leave their homes. The program’s 60 volunteers have since helped hundreds of Kingstonians. Valera also founded the Phone Calls for Social Wellness Program, which pairs a Faculty of Health Sciences student with a community member for weekly calls to help prevent social isolation and promote social wellness during the pandemic. More than 120 calls have been logged. These efforts have also tightened community connections as a number of organizations have been enlisted to work together to serve the needs of these residents during a difficult time.

Community Organization Category

H’art Centre is a multi-element community organization that provides artists with disabilities, and those facing barriers, with opportunities to study the visual, music, dance and theatre arts as adult learners. H’art artists with developmental disabilities work in partnership with qualified community-based professional artists to learn about, collaborate and share creations with the public. Well-designed lesson plans and activities take students from learning foundations to touching public performances and displays. During the pandemic, H’art Centre has enabled ongoing access to workshops for their students ensured their continued interaction within the broader public with on-line displays and sales.

About the Celebrating Accessibility Awards

The Celebrating Accessibility Awards were created in 2011 by the City in partnership with the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) to recognize those who have made contributions – beyond legislated requirements – toward improving access for people with disabilities in Kingston.

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