2015 June Callwood Award

The Annual June Callwood Award recognizes outstanding contributions in support of people with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and blind-low vision impairment. Donna Trella was honoured with this award at the Inspiring Hope Celebration by the Surrey Place Centre on June 22nd, 2015 at the University of Toronto Faculty Club.

Donna Trella, the Founder of Reach for the Rainbow, has pioneered the concept of integration and for the past 30 years has been successfully advocating for the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities into the mainstream.

Donna’s empowering personal story is truly deserving of the recognition she has received from being honoured with a June Callwood Award, some 30 years after her very first event held at Ontario Place. Named ‘Reach for the Rainbow’ Day, it was a one day event that ignited a lifelong passion and would fundamentally change the lives of families living with disabilities for decades to come.

At a young age, Donna found herself a single mother with small children. She was determined to overcome adversity while making a difference, in that Donna’s youngest daughter Dove was diagnosed shortly after birth as severely developmentally disabled. Dove was treated differently because of her disabilities, and Donna was determined to give her daughter the same opportunities available to other children. She was a loud voice in speaking out in support Bill 82, the desegregation of children with disabilities in schools, and the essential need for attitudinal change towards integration practices in Canada. Donna’s commitment to inclusion and to the creation of Reach for the Rainbow was essentially born of her own blood, sweat and tears, and has translated into impacting tens of thousands of families across the province and the country.


Hon. Minister Helena Jaczek of Community and Social Services with Donna Trella

Donna Trella has delivered the critical message of inclusion for those with disabilities with radiance, eloquence and compassion for the past 30 years. In as much as she had shied away from the public eye, her dream remains today as steadfast as it was so many years ago. She has given so much to Reach for the Rainbow, and remained a strong and effective leader in our community. Providing children and youth with disabilities the opportunity to push past barriers, increase self-esteem, experience life, laughter and challenges with their peers - and most importantly, to truly know what it means to belong means everything to Donna, and the province of Ontario is better for her continued commitment to bettering the lives of thousands of Canadian children with disabilities.

Congratulations Donna on behalf of all whose lives have benefited from your passion and belief that when you actively pursue change, anything can happen, even Against All Odds.