What’s in a name?
Plenty, if you ask self-advocate Sheenagh Morrison, who is set to launch her first book and just received an award for her work in changing attitudes towards those she likes to call “diversabled.”
The Widening Our World award is presented by government agency Community Living B.C. to people working towards increasing inclusion for those with diversabilities. Morrison received the award Monday, Jan. 20 in a ceremony at the Garth Homer Society, where she works regularly with other self-advocates.
“Diversability” is a word being championed as a replacement for “disability,” a term which some find limiting and negative. “Diversability” is intended to promote an understanding that those in this category contribute to society in alternative, and equally positive, ways.
“(Disability) sounds like a broken down truck,” Morrison said. “I believe we are all able. Using language in a different way helps me to see myself and my peers equal to everyone else.”
Peers Michael McLellan and Shelley De Coste nominated Morrison for her tireless work in spreading the word.
Working on De Coste’s Diversability: One Community at a Time project, Morrison campaigns for changing our way of thinking about those with developmental disabilities.
“She’s really run with the word,” De Coste said. “Just to inspire people with diversabilities to get out and show people that when we have the chance, we can do it.”
As a part of this work, in August 2013 Morrison spoke before Victoria council and helped convince them to proclaim Dec. 3, 2013 as the first International Persons With a Diversability Day in Victoria.
Morrison’s goal is to have all municipalities in Greater Victoria recognize the day annually.
“It feels awesome,” Morrison said. “I love helping people and speaking up for people who can’t speak up for themselves.”
Morrison is also set to release her first book at a launch tomorrow (Jan. 25). Researching Researchers: Interviews with Researchers about Disability is the end result of Morrison’s effort to expand the scope of what it means to be supported, and what support means.
The book is printed by Spectrum Press. The launch is taking place at Emmanual Baptist Church (2121 Cedar Hill Cross Rd.) Saturday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Peter Boune will also be launching his album If I Can Help Someone Today.
Three more B.C. residents will be receiving Widening Our World awards over the next month.