Ted Arnott spoke at the grand opening of new additions to the Sunrise Therapeutic
Riding and Learning Centre in the Township of Puslinch. As follows were his remarks
at this event on June 29th, 2010:
It’s wonderful to be here with you today to help celebrate the successful completion of a
whole list of ambitious projects here at Sunrise:
The Discovery Ponds, the Butterfly Garden, the Children’s Room, the New Riding
Surface, the Miniature Farm area improvements, and to dedicate the paddock in
memory of David Picken.
We are graced with the presence of Tommy Hunter, who is one of our Canadian icons
and a resident of Puslinch Township. Thank you, Tommy, for joining us today and for
your support of the activities here at Sunrise.
And I’m glad to join with my colleagues in elected public service from the Township of
Puslinch, Councillors Matthew Bulmer, Sue Fielding and Don McKay.
His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, David Onley would have wanted to be
here today. I know this to be a fact.
During his tenure as Lieutenant-Governor, he has made advocacy for disabled persons
one of his central causes. He is a champion for accessibility and for removing barriers.
When he was installed as the Lieutenant-Governor on September 5th, 2007, it was
during the last provincial election. Nevertheless, I took time out of my campaign for reelection
to go to Toronto to be present in the Legislature during the ceremony.
He gave a moving address, and in it, he said, and I quote:
“Accessibility is that which enables people to achieve their full potential. It is inclusion.
Accessibility is a human right and accessibility is right.
“My dream is of a province where disability issues are advanced, not only for those with
classically defined physical disabilities, but also for those so-called invisible disabilities.
There are far too many people who suffer from mental health challenges, poverty, ill
health; people whose psyches are so damaged that the mainstream world is just as
inaccessible for them as it is for the physically disabled.
“While we seek to improve physical access, we must not presume that disability is only
represented by a white wheelchair symbol on a blue sign.”
He went on:
“As a child, I was fascinated by the stars. And, I had big dreams. The fact that I had
been incapacitated by polio at age three meant that I would need more help than most
to realize those dreams. I was fortunate to receive it in “full measure, pressed down,
shaken together, and running over,” in the words of St. Luke. I was aided in ways both
material and emotional, from the technical expertise of my doctors and therapists, to the
unconditional support of my parents, brothers and sisters, and the backing of teachers,
employers and colleagues who reminded me to focus on my abilities rather than my
disability,” he added that day.
It was one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve heard in my 20 years in the Legislature.
Support in “full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
That could have been the mission statement or the motto of Sunrise Therapeutic Riding
and Learning Centre.
But your actual mission statement is more specific, and it speaks to your core values:
“To develop the full potential of children and adults with disabilities and lead them closer
to independence through a therapy, recreation, horse riding, life skills and farm related
And for almost three decades, you’ve fulfilled this mission with dedicated compassion,
and as a model for other similar organizations across the Province.
Every time I’ve been invited to visit you here, I’ve left with a renewed spirit and a sense
that anything is possible. This is the gift you give to our community.
It is also the gift you give to your clients, one by one as individuals, allowing them to
understand their strengths, believe in themselves, and pursue opportunities in the wider
world that without their experiences at Sunrise, they wouldn’t have even tried.
To Ann Caine, your extraordinary Executive Director, all of your staff, we extend sincere
thanks on behalf of the Province of Ontario.
To the family of David Picken, thank you for David’s contribution to Sunrise, and for the
gift of his spirit, which will inspire others going forward to give of their time and talents.
To all the volunteers, who serve on the Board, raise money and find sponsors, and lend
a hand anyway they can, you are providing a significant public service, and the
gratification you receive from doing it is matched by the gratitude of the Province.
To the sponsors who’ve supported our projects here at Sunrise: the Rotary Club of
Guelph, McDonald’s, Farm Credit Canada, you’ve selected a worthwhile place for your
philanthropy. Thank you as well.
Now I must close, but I do so in the knowledge that we have something very, very
special here in the south end of the County of Wellington, because as you empower
your clients, you empower us all.
Thank you, and God bless your work.