Based on my efforts setting up, populating and promoting wheelchairworld, a travel reviews and resources website for wheelchair users, I have been shortlisted in the category of Positive Role Model for Disabilities at the UK National Diversity Awards, an award scheme that celebrates diverse people and organisations that seek to make a positive contribution to society.
In order to improve the website for wheelchairworld, I’ve been working with website developers and it will shortly launch in its much improved new format, complete with space to share other travel information that is not country related such as useful equipment for wheelchair using travellers, good airlines for wheelchair using travellers and experiences booking accessible accommodation through hotel search engines.
However, alongside the redevelopment work, I have also been working on my nomination for the UK National Diversity Awards!
The first thing that I had to do was to encourage people to nominate me. Obviously friends and family were among the first people that I contacted, and sorry friends and family, but way more inspiring were the nominations that came from people whose lives I have touched through wheelchairworld, whom I have never met physically but who follow wheelchairworld on Facebook or Twitter and find it helpful and encouraging, such as one nominator who wrote:
"As a non-ambulant, severely and permanently disabled guy following brain stem stroke syndrome in my late twenties, I emphasise with Susie greatly and follow her across all social media platforms with great interest. Her posts are always informative and totally inspirational. A well-worthy nominee for this prestigious award. Sending positive vibes in the hope that she wins as it is so richly deserved."
I also love the nominations from fellow MS sufferers such as the nominator who wrote:
"From everything I have read & seen about Susie she should be given a medal. As a sufferer of similar symptoms, I read Susie's comments with a real smile, associating with her cause wholeheartedly. None of us with this condition asked for it but with people like Susie fighting the corner, we can have some executable recognition as human beings too. You are a warrior, Susie"
Once I received the notification that I had been shortlisted, I wanted to read about the other people in my category and I was so humbled to be listed alongside people with such amazing stories. From the biographies of people nominated in my category, I have learned about little-known conditions like Verbal Dyspraxia and Dystonia and I have read about a disabled gymnast who is allergic to exercise because she suffers from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I have also found out about the creation of disabled superheroes and many of the other amazing efforts going into raising awareness of different conditions like adult meningitis and the challenges of being pregnant when you have epilepsy.
Obviously there an element of competition in the UK National Diversity Awards but I am just excited about meeting and having the chance to talk to the amazing people in my category and being seated in a room with so many other inspirational people!