The CDSS Inspiration Award is awarded to two (2) people with Down syndrome (of any age) each year. These are the unsung heroes of the Down syndrome community. This award is best suited for people who feel as though they’re not typically represented in the community, but have a story worth celebrating. The two recipients are people who demonstrate the range that “See the Ability” encompasses.
Liam O’Brien & Brittany Orlita
“If you are having a bad day, just go see Liam.” This has been spoken in the halls of St. James’ Regional High School in Port aux Basques. Liam is a 17-year-old in his final year of high school.
Liam has Down syndrome and is proud to inspire his community to See the Ability. He is one of two winners of the 2016 Inspiration Awards from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). As an Inspiration Award winner, Liam will receive a $500 bursary, which he can put towards tuition, use to fund a special project, or donate back to his community.
Liam is an avid member of his high school community, voted as Student Council Representative by his peers. This year, he will be graduating with his high school diploma. He’s part of Special Olympics, competing and often earning medals in swimming and wrestling. He also loves music and can play the bodhran, tambourine, spoons and cajà³n; he has also participated in his school’s St. James’ Idol singing competition.
Liam was nominated by his teacher, Gail Spicer, his swimming coach, Jim Lane, and Joanne Strowbridge. He was chosen from nominations submitted from across the country.
It’s a daunting task for most people. Moving to a big city after graduation, with new rules, new people, and new routines. Like many people after graduating from high school, Brittany Orlita left her home in Brooks to move to Calgary to attend university. Unlike many people, Brittany has Down syndrome.
For her courageousness and spirit, Brittany is being honoured by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS). She is one of two winners of the 2016 Inspiration Awards, announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). As an Inspiration Award winner, Brittany will receive a $500 bursary. The Inspiration Award aims to celebrate the community’s “unsung heroes” and to show the range that ‘See The Ability’ can encompass.
Brittany is in Mount Royal University’s Transitional Vocational Program. She works at No Frills in Calgary and volunteers at the Shawnessy YMCA and Beverly Centre, and attends acting classes at Inside Out Theatre. Her childhood dream to be in Shania Twain’s band came true recently – she sang with the country star at one of her shows in Las Vegas.
“Never underestimate a dream!” her mother wrote, in her nomination letter. Brittany was nominated by Maggie Theiss of Trinity Lutheran Church and her mother, Brenda. She was chosen from nominations submitted from across the country.