Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seeing a Politician Live, in Action: Mike Colle at BIST

It isn't often I get to see a real, live Ontario MPP -- or any politician -- live, in working mode, speaking to the community (as opposed to campaigning for my vote). But Monday I attended the BIST meeting to celebrate the awarding of a $72,300 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and MPPs Kathleen Wynne and Mike Colle were scheduled to attend.

Only Colle showed up.

Having only seen politicians speak to the camera and being edited into sound bites and knowing this was in a way a political event, I expected a boring, glib speech. Instead, Colle got up and grabbed the crowd's attention with his compelling no-notes speech on how brain injury is entering the public consciousness, how survivors are breaking the social taboo chains, and how important it is to celebrate success whether little or big. He then presented BIST's president with a celebratory plaque.
"When you recognize success, you make people feel stronger ... and you go on to another success."


Holding a distraction-prone large crowd of people with brain injuries is not easy. I've seen speakers stumble and drown under interruptions from a BIST crowd many a time. But Colle had no problem -- only one yell-out during his entire speech. It helped that it both made the crowd feel good and was the right length. I see now why long-term politicians stay in power!

The very first benefit of the grant is the hiring of social worker Michelle Ratcliff. The grant will also allow BIST (Brain Injury Society of Toronto) to expand its programs to provide support groups for those with brain injuries and their caregivers; workshops; and community meetings in two locations, not just the current one.

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