Highest provincial honour to Lauren Raymore, Founder

Connections’ Founder and Program Director, Lauren Raymore, was honoured with the highest award presented by the Alberta Government, Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Friday, December 1st. At an event marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Lauren Raymore was presented with the Gary McPherson Leadership Award by Minister Irfan Sabir.  Many present and past employees and Board members of Connections were in attendance for the presentation.

The award is presented to a person in Alberta for outstanding leadership or achievement in enriching the lives of persons with disabilities. By founding Connections 27 years ago, Lauren developed a model of support that has had an impact on hundreds of families and changed court and child welfare systems. Parents with cognitive challenges have a greater opportunity today to choose to be parents and be successful raising their children because of the change Connections has inspired.

Evelyn Wotherspoon, one of Alberta’s leading Children’s Mental Health Consultants, explaining why she supports Lauren for the recognition, says, “Lauren has dedicated her career to provide choice and opportunity to parents with cognitive challenges. Lauren saw that individuals with cognitive impairments, were not always given the skills and resources to achieve the same life goals to which we all aspire; to build an independent life for ourselves and raise a family with someone we love. Connections has helped many families overcome  significant barriers to stay together. What Lauren understood, and Connections has demonstrated, is that parents who love their children are highly motivated to be good parents. These parents can be successful with reliable support and an opportunity to learn new skills.”

Connections advocates successfully for adults with cognitive challenges (developmental disability, brain injury, FASD and Autism) by embodying values like strengths-based, customized support to parents, providing more than 100 families in the Calgary region with one-on-one supports and group programming that extend for as long as the families want Connections in their lives. 

Lauren continues to be instrumental at Connections today, responsible for our team of specialized social workers who support families in their own homes by providing hands-on parenting skills education, guidance on managing and maintaining a stable home, and connecting families to community resources.

About The Gary McPherson Leadership Award: The winner is chosen for exemplifying the qualities and values of Dr. Gary McPherson who dedicated himself to furthering the ideals of equality and citizenship for all Albertans. Dr. McPherson was instrumental in establishing the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities in 1988 and served as its first chair for 10 years. His core values of trust, respect and courage brought people together and his influence continues to have a positive impact on provincial and national disability policy and programs.