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South Surrey’s Charmly Smith an ‘inclusion champion’

Involvement co-ordinator for Self Advocates of Semiahmoo named 2021 WOW Award winner
Charmly Smith (far right) – pictured here with (from left) Self Advocates of Semiahmoo’s Alexander Magnussen, Danielle Burns, Asma Patel and UNITI CEO Doug Tennant, at the 2017 Disability Pride Parade – is one of four winners of Community Living BC’s 2021 WOW Awards. (Contributed file photo)

A South Surrey woman who has worked to ensure people with diverse abilities can “stay positive, connected, and hopeful” during the pandemic has been named among four ‘inclusion champions’ in B.C.

Charmly Smith was announced last week as a 2021 Widening Our World (WOW) Award winner, a recognition bestowed by Community Living BC.

“These individuals leveraged their resources and played a critical role in supporting people with diverse abilities to remain positive and included despite the challenging environment posed by the pandemic,” CLBC CEO Ross Chilton said in a news release.

Smith is involvement co-ordinator for Self Advocates of Semiahmoo, a Semiahmoo House Society group whose members work to make changes through positive relationships. Their efforts have led, among other things, to bringing beach-accessible wheelchairs to both White Rock and Crescent Beach waterfronts.

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Smith is also a supporter of the Self Advocate Leadership Network, which represents a network of self-advocates from seven Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island organizations.

In the CLBC post announcing her as an ‘inclusion champion,’ Smith said it is “an honour to be recognized.”

“However, it’s a much greater honour to be working alongside passionate self-advocates: I am thrilled to be part of an amazing team who at the start of COVID saw the need to create community, share, teach and spread joy,” she said.

“True leaders and mentors emerged during this time finding ways to make our community more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

Smith was nominated by fellow SAS involvement co-ordinator Jill Glennie, who also nominated 2017 WOW Award winner Alexander Magnussen.

Glennie said Smith “supported self advocate members to flourish.”

“Charmly listens to what people want and adapts programs to suit their needs. Charmly focused on mental health, accessibility and community, making sure people continued to feel hopeful and supported throughout the pandemic,” Glennie told CLBC.

“She is always thinking about how she can support people to thrive while also having fun!”

A post Tuesday (Oct. 26) to UNITI’s Facebook page – the organization is a partnership of Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society and the Semiahmoo Foundation – celebrates Smith’s award.

“Charmly was nominated for supporting people to create innovative, safe, and fun activities to ensure people continued to be engaged and supported during COVID-19. Charmly maintained high levels of service for participants with the main aim to keep up connection despite the pandemic,” the post reads.

The WOW Award winners were selected by a provincial committee of self advocate leaders, community members and CLBC staff.

The awards have been presented since 2009, “to recognize British Columbians who are creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead full lives, have rich relationships and choices in how they live and work.”

This year, CLBC received 60 nominations from across the province.

Also named 2021 winners were Justine Richmond of Kamloops, Port Moody’s Peter Edgar and Melissa MacDonald of Victoria.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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