May 31, 2011
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York hosts Accessibility Celebration and Educational Forum

National Access Awareness Week is May 29 to June 4
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York is hosting a National Access Awareness Week Celebration and Educational Forum. 
National Access Awareness Week, observed from May 29 to June 4, brings people together to celebrate the work being done to make programs and services more accessible for people with disabilities.
Members of the media and the public are invited to attend the celebration event, featuring performances by the Alexander Mackenzie High School Sign Language Choir and keynote speaker Gord Paynter.  Mr. Paynter is a stand-up comedian and motivational speaker who will share how his loss of vision opened his eyes to a new world of opportunity.
WHEN: Thursday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
WHERE: York Region Administrative Centre
  17250 Yonge Street, Great Hall
  Town of Newmarket  
• Bas Balkissoon, Member of Provincial Parliament Scarborough-Rouge River and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services
• Vito Spatafora, Town of Richmond Hill Regional Councillor and Chair of the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee
• Adelina Urbanski, Commissioner, York Region Community and Health Services
• Gord Paynter, Stand-up comedian and motivational speaker
• Emily Bigioni, 15-year-old local artist
• Alexander Mackenzie High School Sign Language Choir
Following the celebration, pre-registered Accessibility Advisory Committee members will participate in an educational forum to learn more about Ontario’s accessibility legislation and the role of these committees in the community.  This event is presented by the Municipal Staff Reference Group, a community partnership of accessibility professionals from York Region, York Regional Police, local municipalities, hospitals and school boards.
Throughout National Access Awareness Week, the artwork of 15-year-old local artist Emily Bigioni will be on display in the Great Hall of the York Region Administrative Centre.  Emily has a brain condition that prevents her from speaking or walking and has found joy and personal expression in the creation of her inspiring works of art.  Emily has been painting for eight years, mostly through Holland Bloorview’s Centre for the Arts.  Her work has been displayed at the Town of Markham Varley Art Gallery. 
National Access Awareness Week was established in 1988 in response to a request by Rick Hansen following his Man in Motion World Tour.  Its primary goal is to bring communities together and work towards full participation of people with disabilities in every aspect of Canadian life.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905-830-4444 Ext. 4016 / After-hours Cell: 905-716-9753

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