It has been my privilege and honour to lead this amazing organization over the past two years and there is such a sense of accomplishment when I look back on the efforts of so many people who make us the success we are today. It has taken an entire team of over 200 dedicated and passionate people to ensure we accomplished what we set out to do. Our team includes the Board of Directors, our amazing event volunteers, the volunteer advisory committees, our families, funders and of course our passionate professional staff. Each a critical element to the success of Reach for the Rainbow and all should be commended for their dedication, commitment and significant contributions.

Reach for the Rainbow (Reach) has been advocating for inclusion and accommodation of people with disabilities long before the introduction of the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1990. We have emphasized respect and dignity when including participants in programs with their peers, removed social and attitudinal barriers through training, provided 1:1 support and resource visits to our program delivery partners and reduced physical obstacles to participants by providing adaptive equipment and accessible transportation. Deeply rooted in the culture of inclusion and the use of person-first language. We must continue to advocate, educate and train on inclusion and integration of people with developmental and physical disabilities into our communities and this year is a milestone year for accessibility compliance under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005). As an inclusion leader we are always working to ensure that we meet or exceed those standards.

When I joined the organization in 2015 the Board had identified several key priorities including; the development of a new vision, the creation and implementation of a focused strategic plan, implementation of a strong governance model of oversight, the transformation of our service delivery model and last but certainly not least, financial sustainability. Through our collective efforts in working towards achieving our key priorities, our goal was to become more relevant to our families, expand our reach, and be the leading organization in the area of inclusion and accessibility training and program delivery. The Board was confident that the time was now to reinvent Reach and to be more reflective of today’s environment and family needs. So what have we accomplished? Well, lots! In the past two years we have conducted a review and evaluation of our program, regionalized the delivery of training and the servicing of our program delivery partners, enhanced our core training model with modifications as a first step to redesign, developed a recruitment strategy for new Board members, created a strategic plan and finally implemented a new and diverse funding model. I would say we have been extremely successful these past two years indeed!

Reach is about celebrating differences, rising up to challenges, fighting for our children and their rights. We strive to ensure everyone belongs regardless of who they are, where they came from and what their differences or exceptionalities might be. Children and youth with a disability want and deserve to be active participants in their communities. For them, belonging and participating in their community is the foundation needed to be accepted, to develop healthy relationships, to develop life skills and to be productive and happy. Reach will continue to work towards ensuring access for all is a societal priority and that our program model continues to evolve to meet the ever changing needs of our families and partners.

Best wishes for a safe and inclusive fall!




Dawn MACDonald