Few were as surprised as Sharon Boyce when she was announced as the winner of the Clark Rubber Regional Service Award at this year’s Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Awards at the Sunshine Coast.
“There were so many amazing people running in the awards, I just assumed I wouldn’t get it,” Ms Boyce said.
“I didn’t even have a speech prepared so you can imagine my shock when they called out my name.”
Ms Boyce, who studies and lectures part time at the University of Southern Queensland, received the award for her engaging disability awareness workshops and inclusion programs she holds in schools and organisations across Queensland.
“It was a bit surprising to get an award for something I love doing,” she said.
“The response from the students has been amazing and I’m surprised by their questions and stories they share with me every day.
“The workshops have broken down a lot of barriers and have even helped the teachers understand disability in their classrooms more.”
Disability awareness in early childhood is an area Ms Boyce is very passionate about, after developing a severe form of arthritis when she was 11 and eventually having to rely on a wheelchair to get around.
“About nine or ten years ago my neck broke due to my arthritis and I had to get risky spinal surgery that the doctors were not sure I would survive,” she said.
“While I made it out of the surgery okay, I thought about all the things I wanted to do if I had a second chance.
“I didn’t want to waste a moment; I wanted to break down barriers and teach kids and adults about disabilities and celebrating their abilities.”
The awards recognise rural and regional achievers across Queensland and recognise contributors from a number of different award categories such as Business and Employment, Events and Tourism, Environment, Youth Leadership and Community of the Year.
“I almost considered skipping out on the award ceremony because I had a big week of workshops and travel and was feeling really tired,” she said.
“It was a good thing I went, it was an excellent night and there were some very inspirational people there.”
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