AN INSPIRATIONAL Kirkby teen whose own experience with Asperger’s Syndrome has enabled her to become an advocate for people with similar conditions has bagged a top award.
Laura Hickman is the Ashfield winner of the first Nottinghamshire Outstanding Achievement 4Uth Awards.
Laura, who recently left Brackenhill School, attends Mansfield Youth Link, is a representative for young disabled people at Nottinghamshire Pioneers Youth Forum and is on the management committee and advisory board for the Mansfield Folkhouse Young People’s Centre.
She said: “This past two years have been the best of my life so far, but I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support I’ve been given.
“Being part of the advisory group was my biggest challenge as the group had a number of adults and I didn’t always understand what they were talking about.
“I would become quite agitated during the meetings, but stuck with it as I could see that my presence was important as I was representing other disabled young people.”
The 19-year-old has also recently passed all the modules for her Level 1 Diploma in business administration from Ashfield College.
Laura was nominated for the award by her mum Tracey and Nottinghamshire County Council youth worker Andrea Spink.
Tracey said: “We are so proud of Laura. She’s a remarkable individual and stands out because she never gives up.
“Getting involved has also helped her form strong friendships and achieve a sense of belonging, which can often be almost impossible for someone like Laura. As a mum, you want to see your children included and accepted.”
The future now looks bright for Laura who plans to use her skills and experience to help others.
She says: “I’m about to start volunteering two days a week at Disability Nottinghamshire in Mansfield, which provides advice for people with disabilities across the county. As the subject matter is so close to my heart, it’s perfect for me and I’ll also be using the admin skills I’ve developed during my course.
“I’m also being helped to find paid employment three days a week and would have someone with me on a daily basis in any job until I settled in.”
Laura will now go on to compete against the other winners from each district at County Hall on 30th September where she could be named overall county winner.