Tara McCallan

On Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, Tara McCallan, founder of the Happy Soul Project, was recognized with by The City of Kingston and the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee with a Celebrating Accessibility Award for her significant contribution beyond legislated requirements, towards improving access for persons with disabilities in Kingston. Happy Soul Project inspires others to look at life differently, believing in all abilities and celebrating the beauty in the uniqueness of all people.
Following her nomination, McCallan wrote an open letter on her blog to The City of Kingston about her experience, and granted Stories of Kingston permission to repost her letter.

Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

The City of Kingston,

This thank you has been a long time coming.

Exactly four years ago my family & I moved here. Two weeks later our little girl was born and unknown to us she happen to have Down syndrome. Add in Congenital Cataracts, Heart defects, Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease and a handful of other challenges and somehow you still end up with the sassiest-most-influential 4 year old I've ever met in my life.

My daughter Pip, not only has changed my life. But she is changing the lives of Kingstonians every chance she can. In simple ways like acknowledging the lady who slept on a bench downtown or bringing a smile to the hospital receptionist. To powerful ways like changing perspectives & influencing inclusion & acceptance.

She has inspired me to strive for a world, a city, a community where change is possible. Where differences are celebrated and all people are valued.

Yesterday, I pulled my five year old from school so he could be there. I bravely decided to skip my one year old's nap and I knew Pip needed to come as she was the inspiration behind it all. Yesterday I was humbly honoured with a Celebrating Accessibility Award for making a significant contribution to improving access for persons of disabilities in Kingston.

Even though my kids are young, were way more interested in the refreshment table & my son thought that Mayor Goodway from Paw Patrol would be there instead of Mayor Paterson, it was beyond important that they came.

I wanted them to see and feel the importance of change. Thank you for acknowledging my ideas and my contributions. Thank you for recognizing people trying to do good. Thank you for supporting important decisions that in turn provide inclusion. Thank you for gifting me this award & validating my efforts.

“I started Happy Soul Project with the intent of informing family and friends about our journey with special needs — and since then it’s soared into this beautiful movement — this extraordinary community and I’m so honoured to be the voice behind it and have this platform to create change.”

Thank you for showing my children that one voice can make a difference.

Much love,

Tara McCallan

Proud Founder of Happy Soul Project