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"Everyone has a voice deep down inside them, a voice that says “shine”. Some have loud voices, while some have quiet ones. Some people’s voice is so quiet they never get to hear it, while those that do may choose not to listen. Unfortunately, only a few decide to act on this voice, the stars who influence others to listen themselves."
Find your Little Voice

alzheimer society of ottawa and renfrew county

#WhyIWalk – The 2017 Walk for Alzheimers

A special blog post written by Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo in support of Little Voice’s 2017 Walk for Alzheimers. 

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be involved with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. I have accomplished a lot in my life thus far, but there is no joy or pride greater than my efforts in supporting and creating awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.  – Amanda Bernardo

When I was eleven years old, my grandmother travelled from Italy to Canada for the very first time. It was at the tender age of eleven that I also learned about Alzheimer’s disease for the very first time.

My grandmother, Teresina Bernardo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and at the age of sixty-six. A few years later, she came to Canada for the very first time. At this early stage in the disease, the signs were evident but not alarming. I remember her often repeating the same questions over and over again but I was still too young to understand the full impacts of the disease. It wasn’t until our own trips back to Italy that I began to see how much this disease could deteriorate someone.

A lot of children grow up fearing spiders or heights, but from a young age I feared what could one day be my own inevitable fate.

As the years passed, I slowly lost my grandmother. The disease began as a form of forgetfulness but evolved into something no words can describe. My grandmother is now eighty-eight years old and has been “living” with this disease for over 20 years. Now, in the late stages of this disease, she is no longer able to communicate or look after herself. Living oceans apart from one another, Alzheimer’s disease ultimately stripped me from a relationship with my grandmother.

I’ve known Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time and truthfully, for many years, I wasn’t able to talk about my experiences, or my fears, without tears falling from my face. Even today, I still struggle to share my story but I realized a long time ago that without talking about this disease, without fundraising behind it, without supporting the men and women who volunteer day in and day out to make a difference, nothing would change.

I only wish I was able to share this with my grandmother but I know deep down inside she is proud of me and all that I have accomplished in her name.

I truly appreciate the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County’s recognition of my efforts; I will forever be a part of this lifelong fight for a cure and will continue to support organizations like this that do wonders to support the families affected by this disease.

Being a part of this movement and community is something I will truly cherish forever. 

I hope you will  join us on Saturday, May 13, 2017 as we walk for all those in our community, our country and the world who continue to battle with Alzheimer’s disease, for the families who become full-time caregivers, and to the Alzheimer Society who continues to offer programs and services that help to make a difference in the lives of all those affected by this disease.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sign-up or donate today.

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INTRODUCING THE LITTLE VOICE MOVEMENT

After almost one year in the making … here we are. Today, Little Voice is extremely excited to introduce to the world for the very first time …

The Little Voice Movement

In December 2014, the Little Voice team set out to create a children’s book we hoped would inspire all those who would read it. We wanted to not only develop a book that would encourage children to listen to their inner voice and chase their dreams, but also a platform that would enable us to give back in our community.

After launching the Little Voice book, we succesfully created the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project, a project that allowed us to use our platform to donate a portion of every book sale to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. To date, Little Voice has raised close to $7,000 dollars in honour of Amanda’s grandmother Teresina Bernardo, and has been recognized by eTALK Canada and Starbucks Canada for our fundraising movement. 

In addition to the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project, Little Voice has worked closely with a number of community initiatives, supporting local schools, charities and not-for-profits … but we wanted to do more.

If we could create a movement and fundraise close to $7,000 dollars, what was stopping us from supporting others within our community to do the same.

Today, Little Voice is pleased to launch our official movement: The Little Voice Ambassador Program that will enable Canadians across Canada, children and adults alike, to start their own movement under one of three platforms: 1) For your school; 2) For your Community; or 3) For your Future.

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By creating a movement under our first platform, teachers and parents can fundraise on behalf of their school. By creating a movement for your community, people can fundraise on behalf of a local charity, cause, individual or group in need. By creating a movement under our last platform, a parent or child can fundraise using the Little Voice Ambassador Program to support a child’s future education with a donation to their Registered Educations Savings Plan (RESP).

Movement Page ButtonsThere is no age limit, no time limit and no cost to join, simply a desire to make a difference in your community, school, or future!

With every movement, Little Voice will donate $5 from every book sale to the Ambassador’s cause. Registered Ambassadors will receive a coupon code that will track sales through our website and enable us to donate back to their movement. In turn, Little Voice continues to donate a portion of every book sale to the Alzheimer Society while supporting many more movements across Canada.

As we launch our movement today, we are very excited to have a number of movements already underway! Visit our Registered Movements page to learn about our first movements with CHEO, Proud to Be Me, the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, #RosalinaStrong, the Half Moon Bay Public School and more!

Be sure to catch Little Voice on CTV Ottawa Morning Live this morning at 9:20am, at noon with UpFront Ottawa and this evening from 7:00 to 8:00pm on Twitter, using  the hashtag #wethelittle, and Facebook, on our event page, for a live chat where we will answer all your questions about our movement, our book and our journey. 

A BIG thank you to everyone who has continued to support our message and vision.

By working together, we hope the Little Voice Movement will grow to not only impact our local community here in Ottawa, but also communities across Canada.

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What it means to Dream BIG

Where to begin… 

It seems like just yesterday, I came across a Kickstarter campaign for a film that shared a message much like my own. This message encourages children, and adults alike, to believe in themselves and their dreams! After watching the trailer for the Dream, Girl film,  I saw myself and the journey I had taken with Little Voice in the stories of the women featured in this film. I saw my struggles, my fears, my determination and that same little voice that once inspired me to write a children’s book, inspire others to do extraordinary things too!

On the morning of June 5th, the Dream Big Dream, Girl Luncheon, I asked myself how I got here. How did watching a trailer to a documentary, produced by two women I didn’t really know, turn into me putting on an event for over 140 women. The short answer: inspiration. The longer answer: when an idea gets in my head, I run with it, and that’s exactly what led me to put on this inspirational luncheon.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. Would people be interested? Would people attend? Would they be as inspired as I hoped they would?

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2016 #WalkForAlzheimers

For the second year in a row, Little Voice was extremely excited to participate in the #WalkForAlzheimers in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County!

This year, not only did we fundraise for this important cause, but we also worked closely with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa as part of the organizing committee behind this event! We were blessed to work with such amazing people, hear from so many who are affected by this disease, and ultimately contribute to a successful walk!

The #WalkForAlzheimer’s raised $370,329.00 dollars, had 130 teams and over 1000 walkers!

WebsiteBanner-ENG-Walk4Alzheimers

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Little Voice is doubling their donations!

April Promo

Did you know that a portion of each book sale is donated in support of the Alzheimer Society of Canada? Since December 2014, Little Voice has donated over $3000 dollars!

As many of you know, Little Voice is currently supporting the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County ‪#‎WalkForAlzheimers‬, and so we wanted to go one step further in supporting our team’s efforts!

From now until May 7, Little Voice will be donating $5 from each book sale in support of the #WalkForAlzheimers – this being in addition to our regular donations to the Alzheimer Society of Canada! That’s right, for one month, we’ll be doubling our donation efforts!

Order your copy of Little Voice today OR donate directly to our team’s walk – we thank you in advance for your kind and generous support!

WebsiteBanner-ENG-Walk4Alzheimers

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Help Little Voice Surpass Our #WalkForAlzheimers Fundraising Goal

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A message from Little Voice’s author, Amanda Bernardo

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An Open Letter in Support of the Dream Big Dream, Girl Inspirational Luncheon

Hello,

My name is Amanda Bernardo and I am a local Ottawa author and advocate for both the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa/Renfrew County and Canada.Two years ago, I set out to write
a story I hoped would inspire all those who would read it. Along the way, I realized I was also creating a platform where I could create real change in my community and in the lives of
all those my story would touch.

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In creating this platform, I began promoting a positive movement that would inspire people to listen to their little voice; a voice that would encourage them to be proud of who they are and capable of accomplishing anything! I began working closely with local schools and
organizations, such as CHEO, the Boys and Girls Club and the Proud to be Me Foundation, by donating books and providing inspirational talks.

In sharing my story, I also knew early on that I wanted to tell a story that I felt was not told
nearly enough. This story, unlike my own, is one where our little voice is forgotten, where the memories that make up the sum of our life story are stripped away and the loved ones that are left behind are suddenly strangers. This is a story that we refer to now a day as Alzheimer’s disease. In my attempt to tell this story, I created the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project;
a project that donates a portion of every book sale to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, a cause I hold extremely dear to my heart and have pursued in honour of my grandmother.

As a passionate volunteer in my community, I wanted my movement to not only teach
kids about themselves but also about the importance of giving back and helping others, whatever the cause may be. 

This upcoming June, I am hosting an event that will promote each of these stories, with a
special focus on inspiring women and young girls in our community. The event is a special screening of the soon to be released film “Dream, Girl”, a documentary whose producer comes from our very own nation’s capital. The film’s mission is to share the stories of amazing female entrepreneurs, from brand new startups to million dollar industries, in order to inspire the next generation of leaders. Proceeds from this event will also go towards supporting the 2016 #WalkForAlzheimers!

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The film’s world premiere will be this May in New York City, with special screenings that will
follow shortly after in Canada and the United States. When I first watched the “Dream, Girl”
trailer, I knew I wanted to be part of this movement and share this inspirational message
with others. The film brings to light the importance of teaching young girls and women
that they too can become leaders:

“Any person, male or female, could be a leader. Anyone is capable, it just so happen
for us [women] it’s more complicated. I hope for us this is the generation that changes because I think that it’s time for change.”

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2T4j1aTa4A%5B/embedyt%5D

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015

The month of October always reminds me of when I first set out to publish Little Voice.

Two years ago, I was looking for the inspiration and motivation to set me on the path I am now fortunate enough to be on today. I never would have imagined that I would have transformed the same inspirational poem that got me chasing my dreams into a children’s book that would encourage others to chase their own.

Almost a year later since we officially released Little Voice on December 2, 2014 … I am overwhelmed by how many lives my story has been able to touch, and more importantly, thankful for all the support I have received to get me here today.

Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for our family and friends but also for the small accomplishments that make up the sum of our lives, the memories that shape who we are and yes, even the difficult times that have allowed us to evolve into who we needed to become.

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Inspiration Runs Full Circle

Little Voice has certainly come a long way from its initial start as a poem on a mere scrap piece of paper. It was a story born out of the need to inspire and developed into an inspiration of its own.

As Little Voice has grown, so to has our journey. This all started as a project to publish a message but over the last few months, our message has transformed itself into a movement where acts of kindness, motivation and inspiration have touched not only our readers but both Samantha and I as well.

No words can express how it makes both Samantha and I feel to know that a child, teenager or adult were inspired or moved by what we have created. It is a reward like no other.

With your messages, you remind me personally of why I started Little Voice. I started writing this poem because I too, like many of you, needed to be inspired. I needed to start believing in myself and stop doubting my own dreams.

People always ask what age Little Voice is intended for, and most of the time I answer saying “between the ages of six and twelve”; but that, however, is in the context of our genre not necessarily our message.

Our message was born out of a time when I was 24 years old kicking myself to believe in my passion. It was born out of a need for inspiration that can touch any person, regardless of age. It will continue, I hope, with your support to find its way in the hearts and homes of all those who need reminding that they too can accomplish anything in life and that they too, regardless, should believe in themselves.

Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support. We would not be here today without you!

– Amanda Bernardo, Author

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2015 Walk for Memories

The Alzheimer Society Walk for Memories is a province-wide event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and education. Held annually in more than 65 communities across Ontario, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to help support people living with dementia.

Author Amanda and Illustrator Samantha joined hundreds of others in this year’s
2015 Walk for Memories!

"Cause I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more!"
“Cause I would walk 500 miles and                     I would walk 500 more!”

With your help, the Little Voice Forget Me Not Team was able to raise $564 dollars in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County!

Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

I was so honoured today to walk for my grandmother, Teresina Bernardo. She was 67 years old when she was officially diagnosed with this disease. Having lived with Alzheimer’s for over 19 years, she now finds herself in the final and more difficult stages of this disease.

Teresina Bernardo, grandmother to Author Amanda Bernardo.
Teresina Bernardo, grandmother to Author Amanda Bernardo.

The topic of Alzheimer’s has always been an emotional one in my family. It would be difficult for any family living with this disease to describe it. However, I recently read an article that truly took the words right out of my mouth; the article read: “The more I lose my mom to Alzheimer’s, the more I experience how painful it is to miss someone who is sitting right in front of you.” That’s just it, typically when we lose someone we have a chance to say goodbye, to mourn and to heal. Yet, with Alzheimer’s you don’t really get that. You say goodbye after each conversation and watch as this disease slowly strips you away from your loved one’s memories. You see someone you love disappear even though they are standing right in front of you.

Today, for the first time, I was surrounded by so many others who understood what it meant to live with Alzheimer’s disease. To see so many people together in one room, fighting for the same cause, was truly inspirational and I am truly truly honoured to have been a part of this initiative. Being part of today’s event gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It inspired me to continue fundraising, advocating and doing whatever I can to help bring awareness to this disease and the funding needed to finally find a cure!

This was my first year walking, but it most definitely won’t be my last!

– Amanda Bernardo, Author

Author Amanda & Illustrator Samantha Walking the 2015 Walk for Memories!
Author Amanda & Illustrator Samantha Walking the 2015 Walk for Memories!

Today was a reminder of how Alzheimer’s disease has touched the lives of so many people. When I saw such a big community of people come together to walk, I was overjoyed with their positive spirits and hopes that someday, with much fundraising, we will find a cure!

Walking alongside Amanda today was truly wonderful. Ever since we launched Little Voice she has wanted to give back in some way or another to our community. I was 100% on board when she chose to help the Alzheimer’s Society. I knew why Amanda chose to donate to this cause, but today I was fortunate to have Amanda share with me her grandmother’s story. I am so proud to join her on this journey with Little Voice to now support this community we are so thankful to be a part of!

I look forward to walking many more kilometres in support of this amazing cause and I encourage you all to donate if possible or join us on our walk
next year!

  – Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor, Illustrator

Amanda and Samantha circled the track 25 times and walked a total of 5 kilometres!

The Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County had over 600 walkers present, with 82 teams and … drum roll please … raised

$253, 000 DOLLARS!

A BIG thank you again to all those who donated!

Little Voice and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Little Voice and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

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