Incredible volunteer honoured in Ottawa

It’s incredible what a difference one person can make.

We congratulate Toronto Rehab Foundation’s volunteer extraordinaire Jessica Coriat who was recently recognized for her tremendous community contributions as the 2016 Community Leader for Ontario through the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards program.

At a special ceremony in Ottawa on June 9th, The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, bestowed 16 awards recognizing the accomplishments of deserving individuals, businesses and not-for profit organizations who volunteer their time and make a difference in their communities. Each recipient identified an organization to receive a grant in honour of their award and Jessica chose Toronto Rehab Foundation.

With a passion for volunteering and improving life for others, Jessica Coriat – who was born with Cerebral Palsy and Scoliosis - is dedicated to educating the public about people living with disability and advocating on their behalf.

Jessica is a unique leader. Her perseverance in the face of innumerable daily challenges is not easy, however she moves forward with confidence and tenacity. By volunteering her time and sharing her story to inspire others, Jessica is a strong and valued leader.

The challenges she faces will never be eliminated, but her strength despite them is a true testament to her character. Her disability has cultivated a remarkable ability to help others and share her message of perseverance. With incredible strength and determination, Jessica states that her goal in life is ‘to make a difference for others living with disability.’

Jessica was joined in Ottawa by her family and by Toronto Rehab Foundation’s President and C.E.O., Cindy Yelle, who nominated Jessica for the award.

“Jessica’s drive to give back to the organizations that gave her independence is inspiring. That she is willing to advocate in the community and beyond for improved acceptance, accessibility and opportunities for those with physical challenges makes her extraordinary. I am so grateful that she has been selected for this award and was delighted to attend her beautiful ceremony,” says Cindy Yelle.

Toronto Rehab Foundation and the University Health Network are proud to congratulate Jessica on this much-deserved honour. Thank you, Jessica, for helping make Incredible Happen every day!

In Photo: Jessica (front) at the awards ceremony in Ottawa with her parents, David and Lynn Coriat, and The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos (right)

About Jessica Coriat

Born with cerebral palsy, Jessica Coriat lives with limited mobility and is dedicated to educating the public about living with a disability and advocating on their behalf. As a child, she required extensive pediatric care and rehabilitation to have an increased quality of life. When she grew older and began the transfer to adult rehabilitation, the transition was made easier by support and education. Jessica feels gifted with a unique perspective and platform to help change the way those living with a disability are understood and treated. She volunteers three days every week supporting patients, staff and families, and she encourages patients to engage in their communities.

Through Jessica’s work on the UHN Accessibility Transforming Patient Rights Board, which helps hospitals make their buildings more user-friendly, she advocates for more accessible spaces. She is nationally recognized for her volunteer work and advocacy. Through her Scotiabank Game Changer nomination, Jessica harnessed the powers of social media to share her story and help evolve public perceptions. Campaign components included a Facebook ad campaign that was viewed over 70 000 times, plus a fan page created for Jessica to talk about the competition, then later thank her supporters and blog her thoughts on disability, rehab, volunteering, accessible community facilities and other topics. Her inspiring story has been shared a number of times by Toronto Rehab Foundation on our website, in our monthly e-newsletter and annual report. In 2013, The Aurora newspaper also covered her story titled “Jessica wants to be the ‘Game Changer’ for others with challenges.”

Jessica's passion for increasing mobility and accessibility has improved the quality of life for many. By volunteering her time and sharing her story to inspire others, Jessica is a strong and valued leader in her community.