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Ontario university student helping those with invisible disability

Alexandra Elmslie, a student at Western University in London, Ont., has been chosen as one of the 14 recipients of the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award. Elmslie is being recognized for her efforts to support and speak up for those with ADHD and other invisible disabilities. In 2022, Alexandra designed and curated the “Wellness 4 All” initiative – an online database providing mental health resources for students with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) with IDD concepts and vocabulary. She also recently received the Ontario volunteer award for supporting students with ADHD.

At the age of 8, Alexandra was diagnosed with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and generalized anxiety. Although her disabilities weren’t visible, they had a significant impact on her life. She realized that living with neurodiversity was a lifelong journey, so she dedicated herself to finding ways to work with her brain instead of against it. Thanks to her unique perspective, she became known for her resilience and empathy. She now actively supports and advocates for others with invisible disabilities.

Alexandra has made a significant impact not only through personal achievements but also through her leadership roles and volunteer work. She has conducted ADHD research at Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute, supported occupational therapy for dementia patients at the Parkwood Mental Health Hospital, and empowered children affected by cancer at Campfire Circle. Her compassion and empathy are evident in her involvement in providing music education to disadvantaged youth, coaching a Special Olympics swim team, and assisting with therapeutic horseback riding lessons. Alexandra’s strong commitment to supporting others and creating an equitable and inclusive environment is evident at both local and provincial levels.

She passionately believes that psychological services are a universal human right that should be accessible to all. Alexandra hopes to equip neurodiverse youth with the knowledge to identify their struggles, the courage to reach out for help when needed, and the support to navigate their personal journey.

Alexandra is currently studying Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at Western University. She is passionate about providing fair psychological support, especially to disadvantaged youth. Her goal is to earn a PhD in clinical psychology and use her firsthand experiences to help those in need.

Established in 1982, the prestigious scholarship is awarded annually to students who exemplify the humanitarian ideals of Terry Fox by volunteering and giving back to their communities. The program supports each student’s journey towards their first degree to enable them to continue their important work for the benefit of society.