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Arts student won’t let disability hold her back

Criminology and Māori Studies student Alicia Kapa has been celebrated for inspiring others with disabilities.
She was one of three finalists in the Youth Spirit category at the 2018 Attitude Awards, for a person under the age of 20 who lives with a disability and who has made a significant contribution to improving society.

The awards were held at Auckland’s Sky City on Wednesday 28 November, and televised on TVNZ1.

Alicia (Ngāpuhi) has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and along with completing a degree, hopes to change the perception of people with disabilities via a series of videos on YouTube.
She aspires to work in the youth justice system and is passionate about helping young people with behavioural challenges.

Together with her best friend and carer, Leah Stewart, her YouTube channel ‘Wheely Whacky Adventures’ has a following of over 1200 people.
“My friend and I make videos about our adventures in the hope of changing society’s perceptions around people with disabilities and what we are capable of doing,” Alicia says.

The self-described thrill-seekers have travelled to the United States, Fiji and Australia; have been bungy jumping, to theme parks and rock concerts; and will embark on a South Island tour in a campervan next year.

“I think it’s pretty cool to be nominated for the Youth Spirit Award. It’s also really strange because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything extraordinary or amazing except for living my life,” Alicia says.

“People may look at me and think I have a really sad life, which I sometimes get told and I just laugh, because I actually have a really good life.”

Alicia is supported by the University’s Disability Services and Equity Office to complete her studies.

She is in a wheelchair and uses a head wand and an iPad Pro to complete her university work, and to communicate with people.

“I don’t feel like it impacts my ability to participate in a normal day at University because I am still able to go to my classes and do assignments and exams, it just sometimes takes longer because I type one letter at a time,” Alicia says.

She takes three papers each semester to keep the workload manageable, and has always handed her assignments in on time.

“I always know who I can contact if I need help access wise or even just a good chat and support,” Alicia says.

The overall Youth Spirit Award was awarded to 14-year-old Jadan Movold.

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