|Purpose||Helping the community welcome people with intellectual disabilities to live, work, and play as valued citizens|
|Headquarters||2197 Riverside Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Executive Staff Co-Leaders, Chair
|Keenan Wellar, Julie Kingstone, Cathy Velazquez|
|20 FT, 2 PT|
|Special Needs Network|
LiveWorkPlay is a Canadian charitable organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in Ottawa, Ontario in 1995 by the husband and wife team of Keenan Wellar and Julie Kingstone, LiveWorkPlay was originally known as the Keen Learning Centre for Youth, then operated as the Special Needs Network from 1996-2001.
Soon after its founding as a resource centre, the organization evolved and began offering supports and services related to housing, employment, and community participation. In 2001 the name was changed to LiveWorkPlay to focus on the organization's goal of promoting full participation and decision-making with regard to living situations, work, and play. In 2011 the organization adopted a revised vision, values, and mission: "Helping the community welcome people with intellectual disabilities to live, work, and play as valued citizens."
In an effort to better share best practices and connect with organizations across the province LiveWorkPlay joined Community Living Ontario as an affiliate in 2008. LiveWorkPlay was the lead Ottawa area organization in marking the historical closure of Ontario's mass institutions for people with intellectual disabilities on March 31, 2009.
LiveWorkPlay innovations in housing, employment, and social inclusion have been the topic of numerous studies and journal articles most notably in the Journal on Developmental Disabilities. With respect to housing, the LiveWorkPlay organization does not support any form of institutional housing, advocating instead that people with intellectual disabilities own or rent homes of their own. In supporting employment for people with intellectual disabilities, LiveWorkPlay has partnered with local employers to advocate for real paid work at minimum wage or better. In developing social inclusion, LiveWorkPlay utilizes a unique "matching program" to bring together people with intellectual disabilities and other citizens to enjoy shared interests in the community.
LiveWorkPlay was one of the early adopters of social media in the non-profit sector, a strength that has been highlighted in the mainstream media and also recognized through success in social media funding competitions and awards.
On June 6, 2013, LiveWorkPlay was honored as the United Way Ottawa Community Builder of the Year for Belonging To Community.
On June 4, 2015 the organization celebrated 20 years with 350 guests. The Engines of Success event included a surprise United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award presented by Rabbi Bulks to outgoing Chair of the Board Cecelia Taylor. On July 18, 2015 the book "The Courage to Fail, the Will to Succeed: Twenty Years of the LiveWorkPlay Experience 1995-2015" was published, authored by Keenan Wellar with a foreword by Al Condeluci, PhD.
On November 9, 2016, LiveWorkPlay was awarded $125,000 by a jury of civic leaders as the winners of the New Leaf Community Challenge, a live audience event with three finalists evaluated on the innovation, sustainability, and social change potential of their proposals.
Keenan Wellar (born 1968, in Evanston, Illinois) and a lifelong resident of Ottawa, Ontario is currently serving as LiveWorkPlay Executive Staff Co-Leader and Director of Communications and has made over 100 media appearances. He is an experienced presenter and advocate of social media marketing for non-profit organizations.
Wellar completed a BA in History and a BEd with Ontario Teacher Certification at the University of Ottawa, and is a graduate of the applied linguistics Master of Arts program at Carleton University. Wellar also holds a of a Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing from the Sprott School of Business.
Prior to working full-time with LiveWorkPlay, he managed the national Special Needs Education project (part of the Government of Canada's SchoolNet program) from 1995-1997 as a Project Manager at Ingenia Communications Corporation and represented Canada at the Seventh Annual Conference of the Internet Society.
In 2010 Wellar was surprised with a United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award acknowledging not only his work with LiveWorkPlay, but for volunteerism with many other community organizations, including more than 1000 hours with Meals on Wheels Ottawa, pro bono social media marketing services for non-profit organizations, and keynote speaking engagements. In 2012 Wellar was named as an inaugural Focus Area Champion for United Way Ottawa. In 2014 he accepted the Community Living Ontario Social Media Award as the top communications strategist from among more than 100 affiliate organizations.
In addition to authoring The Courage to Fail the Will to Succeed in 2015, Wellar has been published in several journals including the Canadian Journal of Volunteer Resource Management, The Philanthropist, and Non-Profit Quarterly
Julie (Julia) Kingstone (born 1973, in Ottawa, Ontario) is currently serving as the organization's Executive Staff Co-Leader and Director of Operations. Kingstone completed a BSc and an MEd at the University of Ottawa as well as a BA in Psychology from Carleton University. Prior to transitioning from a volunteer to an employee of LiveWorkPlay, she worked in Palliative Care at the Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital, and had a long history working with youth, including mental health promotion with Youth Net/Réseau Ado and various roles with Christie Lake Camp.
Kingstone was a finalist in the 2004 YM-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards and winner of a 2012 Ottawa Business Journal and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Forty Under 40 Award, and was further distinguished as the sole recipient from the non-profit sector. She was named the 2014 University of Ottawa Social Sciences Alumni of the Year.
On April 10, 2015, Wellar and Kingstone were featured in a 12-minute "Amazing People" news segment on CTV Ottawa combining recorded footage and live interviews in the studio with co-workers, community partners, individuals with intellectual disabilities, and family members.