Fareham teen with spina bifida wins National Diversity Award for her campaigns to promote inclusion

A TEENAGER with spina bifida has earned national recognition for her sterling efforts to promote diversity and equality.

Saturday, 21st September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 9:26 pm
Emily White from Fareham, 13, centre, with her National Diversity Award for Positive Role Model for Age from the ceremony in Liverpool on Friday, September 20. She is pictured with her parents, Aimee and Dan White. Picture: Dan White

Emily White, from Fareham, was left with a beaming smile as she was named Positive Role Model for Age at the National Diversity Awards.

The ITV-backed ceremony in Liverpool celebrated the hard work of inclusivity campaigners across the UK, with more than 28,000 shortlisted.

But it was Portchester Community School pupil Emily, 13, who topped her category, before issuing a rallying call on behalf of youngsters like her.

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On her award last week, she said: ‘This means that any child or young adult must have a voice and must be listened to.

‘This means our views and our campaigns are important, as we are the world changers.’

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So far Emily has appeared on Channel 5, ITV and BBC television to highlight the lack of access, care and toilets for disabled children in the UK.

She has raised thousands for charity, called for changing places in all shops and parks and works with Beano comics as an advisor on inclusion.

And as previously reported, she even took a 40,000-signature petition to Downing Street, asking for a minister for disabled children and families.

Through this fervent work her dad, Dan, a disability and mental health campaigner and columnist, said she has ‘become her own voice’.

‘Seeing Emily campaign and be awarded for it feels incredible,' the 47-year-old said.

‘My ultimate dream for all the campaigning I do is for people to listen to the kids because too often people think they have nothing to say.

‘Well in reality they have an awful lot to say and it's children who will be inheriting this world, so more people with influence now need to step up and talk to Emily and others like her.'

Emily, a wheelchair user, also inspired her dad to create a comic book based on characters whose disabilities become superpowers.

The story, dubbed The Department of Ability, has featured at conventions and in the national media and sees her as the lead hero.

As Emily accepted her award, her dad hailed her mainstream school for setting an example of ‘how the country should be'.

‘The school throws its support behind all its pupils regardless of ability – championing causes and giving the children a voice,' he said.