Ready, Willing and More Than Able will be celebrating community inclusiveness this Friday, Oct. 16, at the Rivercity Stage (1080 Hemlock St.).
Greg Hill, executive director of the Campbell River Association for Community Living (CRADACL), hopes this will become an annual celebration during Community Living Month.
“Each year we take a little different tack on how we celebrate Community Living Month,” Hill says. “We used to have a salmon barbecue at Spirit Square, but, you know, a salmon barbecue in October, outside, with hurricanes coming….”
The weather being uncooperative this time of year wasn’t the only reason they changed the celebration and moved it inside.
“We didn’t really get a chance to celebrate ability (at the barbecues),” Hill says. “Sure, we had the band Inclusion playing under the tents, but while people were surely appreciating the salmon and it was an opportunity to give back, it just didn’t really give opportunity to show what we do.”
What they do, Hill says, is bring in more than $12 million in economic benefit to the community as “probably the community’s fourth largest employer,” directly affecting over 600 families, serving “from zero to 100. We have infant programs right through to seniors housing.”
Mayor Andy Adams issued a proclamation saying that, once again, October is officially being recognized as Community Living Month, to celebrate “the achievements of people with developmental abilities, including independent living, workplace accomplishments and community and social participation,” and to recognize “the hard work of individuals, families and community members to create inclusive communities and opportunities for all British Columbians.”
At Friday’s inaugural Ready, Willing and More Than Able event, they’ll be showing off the unique abilities of some of the people they serve with those programs, and inviting the community to celebrate right along with them.
“We will have folks showing off their talent,” Hill says simply. “They will show us their musical abilities, they will show us their entrepreneurial skill, they will show us their artistic and creative ability.”
From violin players to piano players to spoken word performances of “philosophical waxings,” the event will be an extravaganza, Hill says.
“We recognize differences,” Hill says. “We all have our challenges, and we can recognize those challenges and differences, but we’d rather celebrate our similarities. We’d rather celebrate ability.”
For Kenneth Cooper, the local musician who will be emceeing the event, it’s a chance to reflect.
“It’s an opportunity to focus on the reason that you have a particular set of values. It’s a re-energizing. One of the things the month does – and this event is like a laser for that – is it provides us an opportunity for reflection, and then out of that comes action.”
Before and after the show – which, according to Cooper, “will be probably a tad over an hour” – there will be mingling, food and drink in the lobby with the performers and other guests.
“When people have abilities, what they needs is a vehicle to demonstrate that, to practice that. So that’s what this is. It’s a showcase, in a sense,” Cooper says.
“One of the things I like about this is that, in a way, we’re doing a flip on the notion of inclusion,” Cooper says. “CRADACL is all about inclusion, and now they’re saying, ‘we want to include the community in our celebration.’”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for mingling and refreshments, with the show to follow at 7.
It’s a “come one, come all” event.
Just show up ready to enjoy yourself and celebrate what it means to be a community that cares about inclusiveness.