Emily White

Department of Ability

Emily, 13, is an independent and vocal disability campaigner, passionate about seeing equality for her and others in the disabled community, and is the star of her own disability hero comic, ‘The Department of Ability’. Emily has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, scoliosis, autism and chiari, and uses a wheelchair. She wanted to read things with characters like her, so – along with her cartoonist dad Dan – she is creating the things she would like to read. 

This year Emily’s short story was published in a Young Writers Anthology, helping change the narrative around childhood disability. She wants all children, whatever their abilities, to be seen for all they can contribute and achieve.

Emily has influenced a lot of social change, from overseeing access improvements to local play parks, to the opening of several Changing Places accessible toilets. She is an ambassador for Parallel London and is soon to become a Variety Club youth ambassador too. As the face of Department of Ability, and through her ongoing work on access and inclusion, she is reaching out to children worldwide. With her family, Emily delivered a 40,000 signature petition to 10 Downing Street calling for a disabled children’s minister to be appointed.

She has received celebrity support from Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft, and actor Sally Phillips amongst others, but it is through her own media appearances that she has become a figurehead for her friends, both disabled and not, by showing them the positive changes one person can affect.

Her TV appearances, including BBC News and the Apprentice, have led her to becoming one of the UK’s most prominent young disabled people, her influence reaching hundreds of disabled people and celebrities across the country. This summer she has also been shortlisted for the ITV News Diversity Awards.