May 28 to June 3 is National AccessAbility Week, a celebration of the contributions of Canadians with disabilities and a recognition of those actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion. 

In the Town of Orangeville, Mayor and Council have proclaimed this week as National AccessAbility Week, encouraging local support of equality of access and opportunities for persons with disabilities. 

For the past two years, the Town of Orangeville’s Accessibility Champion Awards have recognized individuals, local businesses, and community groups who have demonstrated a continued passion for making the community more accessible. Nominations are voted on by the Town’s Access Orangeville Committee. 

This year, the committee unanimously voted to recognize all nominees with an Accessibility Champion Award. 

“I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year’s Accessibility Champions,” commented Councillor Rick Stevens, Chair of the Access Orangeville Committee. “Thank you for your continued work to make our community more inclusive and accessible.” 

The 2023 award recipients are: 

Branching Out Support Services

Branching Out Support Services builds an accessible community through programming and events, such as workshops and classes, dances, and art shows. The organization also provides education and consulting services to other businesses, organizations, and community groups about neurodiversity, equity, inclusion, and creating accessible and welcoming spaces.

The leadership team at Branching Out Support Services values and seeks opinions and experiences from those with lived experience to determine the direction of the organization and how they can build community together. Staff and participants also volunteer their time to opportunities and events that build accessible communities.

Active Lives Canada

This not-for-profit organization operates a day program with two campuses - one in Orangeville and one in Shelburne. Both campuses are fully accessible to individuals with any ability. The team at Active Lives Canada motivates, engages, and encourages all participants through their dedication to is inclusion, kindness, fun, and accessibility.

Program activities include swimming, hiking, workouts, volunteering with other organizations, cooking, baking, shopping, coding, computer use, and more. All programs are adapted to each of the individual's abilities. Active Lives Canada opened a Respite house in Orangeville in April of this year, available to everyone in Dufferin and the surrounding area.

James Jackson

James Jackson is a true Accessibility Champion and advocates daily to bring attention to accessibility matters in Orangeville. James is a current member of the Access Orangeville Committee and was a member of the Joint Accessibility Committee the past term of Council. James is a strong advocate for accessible parking in the downtown core and regularly attends Council meetings to bring attention to matters such as the Broadway Bricks project, making sure his voice is heard for everyone. James is also the Ambassador for the Caledon Dufferin Chapter for Multiple Sclerosis. 

Michelle and Rick Arsenault, Bluebird Café & Grill

Michelle and Rick Arsenault are well known restaurateurs in Orangeville. Michelle and Rick recently provided accessibility training to their front-of-house staff (training was provided by another Accessibility Champion: Branching Out Support Services). Continuously seeking ways to improve the dining experience for all guests, Bluebird Café now provides double handled mugs and weighted utensils to assist those with hand tremors or involuntary muscle movements. 

Advocacy Award: Participants at Branching Out Support Services (BOSS)

Participants at Branching Out Support Services (BOSS) will receive a special Advocacy Award for their work to bring attention to accessibility concerns related to local recreation and transit opportunities. The group was invited to meet with Mayor Lisa Post and Town staff and share their lived experiences; Town Recreation staff was able to add inclusive court time to program offerings and provided accessible access to drop-in gym space. This active group can also be seen out in the community volunteering, doing clean up, and delivering flyers for the Blues & Jazz Festival.


The Accessibility Champion Awards Ceremony happens on June 6 at 10:30 a.m. in the Orangeville Town Hall Atrium. Award recipients will each receive a certificate and a small financial contribution to support their continued accessibility work.