Coltyn Liu, 16, of Vancouver, is the 2016 Courage to Come Back Award recipient in the Youth category.

COLTYN LIU NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

Coltyn Liu
Photo credit: Mark van Manen/PNG

Look at him now and you’d never believe his story: hit by a steel vendor’s cart in a shopping mall food court as a toddler, slammed aside like a rag doll, suffering traumatic brain injury which left him having to learn to talk, to walk, to comprehend; left him hyper-sensitive to sound and the world around him, susceptible to screaming fits, seizures and ongoing secondary injuries and challenges.

Look at him now and you see an ‘A’ student, six-feet-four, a volleyball star, a leader and winner with the awards to prove it. You see a mentor to other kids, a volunteer coach and ref. You couldn’t imagine him slithering on his stomach, lashing out in pain, a crying violent boy, bullied mercilessly, not able to handle being touched or understand what was happening or being said around him, moved to home schooling. You’d never believe the daily heartache and struggles he still goes through to be in school, the effort it takes to do everyday activities and the things he loves or the anguish he lives with as he fights through a day and the continuing regressions and pain.

Look at him now and it’s easy to forget the years of poverty, the food bank line-ups, the scrounging to survive, the doctors, lawyers and therapists as his mother and sister fought the system to get him the help he needed. You’d never know the battles they still face and the hardships they continue to endure.

Look at him now and you will see his “me-do” attitude, his will to live and overcome perceptions and beat the odds, you see his love of sport, first as therapy, then as a passion. As one of his teachers puts it, Coltyn “is one of those elite-level athletes who has the innate ability to raise the level of all the people around him”.

Look at him now and you’ll find him helping others, founding, with his sister and mother, K.A.R.E (Kids Actions Really Energize) Power, an organization which identifies community challenges and comes up with solutions from a youth perspective.

Coltyn will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Sonia Deol interviews Coltyn Liu – click to view on Global News website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Coltyn Liu – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Coltyn Liu – click to listen on News1130 website>

 

Tom Teranishi of Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Medical category

TOM TERANISHI NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

by Gerald Haslam

Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG
Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG

Tom was born in 1942 at a wartime internment camp for Japanese-Canadians. He had significant vision issues from birth, which later developed into retinopathy and macular degeneration, undergoing bilateral cataract and corneal transplant surgeries. Today he has about five per cent functional vision with light sensitivity.

There were early signs in his mid-teens and he began suffering from poor renal function by 1978 and was put under the care of a kidney specialist. In 1983 he was put on hemo-dialysis and in 1984 he was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant, which served him well for 30 years. Three years ago his kidney functions were decreasing so he was back on hemo-dialysis by 2014 followed by a second transplant in 2015.

None of this stopped Tom from getting an education and pursuing a career. He received B.A. and Masters of Social Work degrees from UBC and began full-time work at Shaughnessy Hospital in 1968, helping war veterans and others needing rehabilitation and support. When the hospital closed in 1993, Tom transferred to VGH, where he worked in the physical rehab unit and continued teaching and supervising social work students and future doctors.

His deteriorating eyesight and other health issues forced Tom to retire from hospital work in 2004 and from his activity as a private practitioner in 2013, but none of that has prevented him from aiding a rich diversity of community organizations as a volunteer. It’s a long list starting with Kits Neighbourhood House in his university days, then later goes on to include the Kinsmen Society, Lions Society, Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, Metro Vancouver Cross-Cultural Seniors Network, and the Association for the Equality of Blind Canadians.

He has travelled widely, been a curler, bowler, hiker and cross-country skier. As his friends say of Tom, admiringly, there’s not much he won’t try.

Tom will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Tom Teranishi – watch live on Global News Hour at 6pm May 4th.

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Tom Teranishi – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Tom Teranishi – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Without Ted’s letter, no award for Jerome Bouvier.

by Gerald Haslam – founding member of Coast Mental Health Foundation, author, past member of The Courage To Come Back Executive Committee

Jerome BouvierJerome Bouvier received the 2011 Courage To Come Back award in the Addiction category because his friend Ted Kuntz wrote a letter.

No, that’s not the whole story, not by a long shot, but it’s a crucial part. Nobody achieves a pinnacle like this just because someone else sits down at a computer, but part of it is pretty simple: no nomination, no award.

Kuntz is a Coquitlam psychotherapist in private practice who met Jerome about 15 years ago. The two of them worked together on finding innovative resources for troubled youth. Years later, Ted made the connection between Jerome and the Courage awards. Bouvier is Executive Director of PoCoMo Youth Services Society, which offers street-level services and a mobile drop-in centre to young people in the Tri-Cities of Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Ted Kuntz first learned about the Courage awards through stories in The Province. “I’d been captivated by the stories of recipients over the years,” he says. “I thought about it and wanted to put his name forward. It wasn’t about winning; this was a story that deserved to be told. I figured that a committee of people would read it, and once they knew what he’d accomplished, they’d want to honour him.” Without Ted’s letter, no award.

And they did, but not the first time, in 2006, or the second. The 2011 nomination of Jerome was his third.

“There are just so many great stories,” says Patricia Wiggins of Coast Mental Health Foundation, presenter of the Courage awards since their inception in 1999. She reads every single nomination and arranges the six ‘category panels’ of a dozen or so volunteers, including experts in the various fields, to make the short list of two to five nominees in each category. Then a group of 16-20 distinguished citizens, also all volunteers, makes the final selections. “The choices can be incredibly difficult because there are so many deserving people. A number of our recipients have been nominated more than once.”

Ted Kuntz says the nomination process is “exceedingly easy. For me, writing about Jerome felt like a celebration. People like him teach us how to move through adversity.”

Whether or not the nominee ends up receiving the award on stage at the gala dinner, Ted continues, being nominated gives people who have faced severe challenges an important boost. “I think they feel validated,” he says; “it lifts them higher and they want to contribute more.”

“We hear that all the time,” Patricia Wiggins says. “The nominating process brings people together, increasing their understanding of disabilities, and gives respect to those who have endured so much.”

So what makes a perfect nomination? There are tips on the Coast website, where the nomination form can also be downloaded couragetocomeback.ca “In general,” Wiggins says, “ just tell the story: Don’t overload the selection panels with too much information. Letters of support from others who know the nominee are very helpful.” (Ted Kuntz’s 2011 letter was four typewritten pages plus several testimonials from friends and colleagues’ of Jerome). “All the nominees have made a courageous comeback, but remember that giving back to the community—motivating and helping others—is very important. The panels are looking to be moved and inspired.”

Clearly, Jerome Bouvier moved and inspired them; his journey from drug addict to community leader has brought a tear to many eyes. But for Ted Kuntz and that letter, though, you might never have known.

To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.

 

Courage To Come Back Mental Health Award

by Sandra Yuen MacKay, 2013 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient

sandra yuen mackayHow the Courage To Come Back Mental Health Award Award changed my life

Hello my name is Sandra Yuen MacKay. I received the Courage To Come Back award in 2012 in the mental health category. I struggled with mental illness for many years. Tormented by hallucinations and delusions and dealing with side effects of medications, I felt my life was over at many times. But I dug my way out and became an artist, writer and public speaker on recovery. I published a memoir My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness to build awareness and reduce stigma.

A colleague who was also a friend thought I was worthy of this award and nominated me. That in itself was an honour.

One morning, the phone rang, I picked up the phone, and it was Mr. Lorne Segal telling me I had been chosen for this award. I was thrilled. When I received the award and stood in front of over 1000 people at the gala, my life was definitely transformed on personal level and in the way others perceived me.

I met the other recipients and during that short time, we shared a bond knowing the trials we’d been through and the joy we felt upon receiving our awards together. To be part of that experience at the gala, where people opened their hearts and gave toward the Coast Mental Health Foundation to help people in our community was profound. Generosity and humanity flowed in that room.

Since the award, I was named as one of five Faces of Mental Illness in 2012, a national campaign which included advocating to Members of Parliament and visiting the Governor General and his spouse in Ottawa.

The next fall, I spoke at a special event in Nanaimo, I was featured in a bus ad in Terrace, BC and I received a signed photo from the Minister of Defense praising me on my advocacy work. MP Don Davies called me from Ottawa to say how insightful my memoir was and encouraged me to write more. In 2013, I received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to the community.

All these things came on the heels of receiving the Courage To Come Back Award. The award played a large part in subsequent events and successes in my life.

There are others I know that deserve this award. People that have walked through fire and emerged ready to aid and inspire others, to give them the courage to move forward. Your child, sibling, relative, friend or colleague could be the next Courage To Come Back recipient.

So, if you know someone who you think is worthy of this award, I urge you to nominate him or her. And that person may one day stand and be acknowledged for their perseverance and dedication to giving back to others.

To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.