Written by a representative for Empowered Kids Ontario
Across Ontario, Empowered Kids Ontario (EKO) members play a vital role in advancing innovative best practices in service delivery for kids with disabilities and their families. This year EKO honours two individuals for outstanding and meaningful work that transformed system integration and family centred care. Elaine Whitmore is receiving the Tribute Award for Leadership for her work in the Windor-Essex area while Adele Kirby is receiving the Tribute Award for Partnership for her work in Muskoka, Parry Sound and North Bay.
The Tribute Awards, EKO’s program of peer-nominated, board-selected awards have been recognizing achievement in child development and rehabilitation for almost a decade. The awards, announced at EKO’s Annual General Meeting, are a way to learn from and aspire to best practices.
“Every year during this process, we’re more and more impressed by those who foster new strategies and initiatives, affirming Ontario’s child development and rehabilitation sector as the gold standard,” says EKO Chair Penny Smiley. “There are some great lessons to be learned from these leaders.”
Collaboration is at the heart of everything for Adele Kirby, who practices and nurtures partnerships with regional agencies and local providers, and with colleauges across Ontario. Her commitment has created interdisciplinary programs that are integral to One Kids Place (OKP), inspirational to centre staff and peers across the province, and that will impact communities for years to come.
One of the first to join the team when OKP was established, Adele later founded the centre’s office in Gravenhurst, and developed the strong programs for the communities of Muskoka and Parry Sound that are today the significant portion of OKP’s services. She worked with community partners across Northern Ontario to create a family-centred service delivery system that benefits all kids with disabilities and their families, and enhances lives. Adele’s work helped make OKP a home to community partners including the Nipissing Association for Disabled Youth, the North Bay chapter of Autism Ontario, PLAYS, EarlyON, and the Section 23 Transition to School Program.
Adele believes that partnership with community agencies improves services overall, and evidence of this is apparent in programs such as the Sound Community Hub in Parry Sound, a unique partnership that co-locates OKP’s office with local service agencies and has become a model replicated by cities and towns across Ontario. Other examples of this collaborative family-centred approach include the Early Start Denver Model, Coordinated Service Planning, Early Years and Best Start, and Get Ready for Kindergarten, a unique outside the box pilot to ensure all kids are ready and able to be successful in school.
A graduate of University of Toronto’s Speech-Language Pathology program, Adele is known for remaining current with trends and advance is her field and her incorporating knowledge into best in class programs and services. She mentors with an ability to listen, motivate and encourage, building team with a depth of knowledge and positive approach to leadership that is respected by all.
“We’re thrilled to see these fantastic colleagues recognized and honoured by their peers and their communities,” says EKO CEO Jennifer Churchill. “Elaine and Adele have shown us how to keep kids at the centre in our evolving environment, and we are inspired by their many contributions to ensuring Ontario kids with special needs and their families live their best lives.”