Contributed by Gabriela Torres, Communications Assistant

Introducing The 5th Annual Growth Bash Ceremony

Image saved from Kudoz Facebook page, Growth Bash Celebration 2018

The excitement that flowed through the air at this year’s 5th annual Growth Bash awards ceremony was in one word, electric! Hosted by Kudoz on February 7th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the big and beautiful Vancouver Convention Centre, Growth Bash honoured 60 community members living with and without developmental disabilities for their ongoing contributions to lifelong learning, self-discovery, and personal growth.

Each year, Growth Bash recognizes two main values that underpin the Kudoz movement. The first, is the belief that individuals’ minds never stop developing and learning. While the second focuses on reflection, and the way past experiences can impact thinking, being, and mental growth. This event is extremely special not only because it encourages individuals of all abilities to try new things and step outside of their comfort zones, but because it provides an opportunity for those who don’t often receive recognition for their achievements, to have a moment in the spotlight.

The Ceremony

Images submitted by Monique Nelson

Upon walking into the venue, guests could immediately see the expressions of pride reflected onto the faces of all those in the room sharing the Kudoz community experience. Filled with Kudoers, hosts, circle members (friends/families) and funders – all supporting one another, event organizers transformed the Vancouver Convention Centre into a gallery of accomplishments. Sprinkled with displays of individuals’ achievements including photography exhibits, art installations, and a makeshift podcasting station set up by a talented Kudoer, the venue became a place where everyone could gather to discuss and share one another’s successes.

Image submitted by Monique Nelson

While event attendees admired the displays and engaged in conversation, they also had the chance to grab delicious snacks, coffee, and water from buffet-style tables along the edge of the room. Once guests finished their mingling and munching, the ceremony began. To add to all of the excitement already in place, the Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, also the Minister responsible for Community Living BC, took to the stage to kick off the ceremony with an inspiring speech. He spent some time addressing the work Kudoz does to foster an inclusive community:

“Kudoz and everyone here today has shown people the possibilities in the community, and values of inclusion and diversity. With organizations like Kudoz leading the way, we’re able to build more inclusive communities and I hope we can accomplish even more together in the future as we move forward and look to build strategies that are all about inclusion.”  – Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Images submitted by Janey Roh, Growth Bash Celebration 2018

After Minister Simpson’s thoughtful address, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived — it was time to hand out the Kudoz badges! This year’s Growth Bash ceremony was bigger than ever before, with over 160 attendees and over 140 badges rewarding Kudoers and hosts. The badges honoured unique experiences such as “Community Builder” “Future Forecaster” “Dream Diver” and “Adventure Seeker.”

Images saved from Kudoz Facebook page, Growth Bash Celebration 2018

Being called upon to receive their awards, brought about gleaming smiles from Kudoers and Hosts alike. From long, focused  strides to quick marches, they moved forward from the back of the ballroom towards centre stage, one by one. Most were anything but bashful once they arrived! As recipients slowly leaned in and bowed their heads, the badge was placed gently around their necks. Within seconds, guests would see their heads bob up with a grin as they took in the whoops and hollers of encouragement from their fans in the room. Once all awards were handed out, apple juice circulated the room for a toast.

Image submitted by Janey Roh

Justin Albay was one of this year’s most notable hosts and is now an Alumni with a unique role to play in the movement. Not only did he assist in greeting guests and handing out awards at the ceremony but received recognition for his very own achievement of hosting the most Kudoz experiences in 2018. While Justin has many talents including knitting, teaching, jewellery making, art, and music, over the last year, he offered billiards and freestyle drawing experiences with Kudoz. In a quick interview, Justin let us know that his involvement with Kudoz sprung from his desire to make a difference and help those with cognitive disabilities change their lives by teaching them all of the skills and activities he enjoys doing. He also said he felt extremely happy to attend this year’s ceremony and would love to return again next year. For him, the highlight of the event was seeing people’s expressions as they walked onto the stage. Finally, when asked about what advice he would give to future Kudoz hosts, Justin highlighted the importance of giving Kudoers the “time, space, and independence to learn in their own way.”

Images submitted by Monique Nelson

Over the past five years, Kudoz has engaged over 160 Kudoers and 500 Hosts in the social start-up. This has resulted in over 1,100 experiences and the collection of more than 300 stories of change! Data from reports reveals that 91% of participants experienced a shift in opportunities, 77% shift in capabilities, and 67% a shift in motivation. All of this and more can be exemplified by adults like Caleb, a Kudoer since 2017, whose involvement in the program opened new doors of self-discovery.

“I think that Kudoz is great for those who want to make a simple change in their life – who want to make friends, learn something new, check out things they didn’t know about and even learn more about themselves. I feel proud. I can choose between lots of opportunities and find the place in the world that I fit.” – Caleb

Many individuals like Caleb have had positive experiences as a result of the Kudoz platform. To read more about their stories, and what they have to say click here.

The Future is Kudoz

Image saved from Kudoz Facebook page, Growth Bash 2018

Kudoz is a first-of-its-kind learning platform that began in 2014 for youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Its primary purpose is to create ongoing experiences for individuals looking to break out of their daily routines and make new connections with others who share similar passions and interests.

Today, Kudoz has evolved into a community of over 500 members powered by learning and the eagerness to try something new. As of April 2019, Kudoz will expand its work into the North Shore, becoming its own nonprofit entity. We feel excited to continue seeing the progress of Kudoz’s exciting and inspirational work for many years to come and look forward to next year’s Growth Bash ceremony!

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to CLBC for their ongoing support in uniting civic leaders, organizational leaders, youth and adults with developmental disabilities, their families, and local businesses for this one-of-a-kind event.