Multi award-winning social entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Susanne Rees, is CEO and Founder of iDID Adventure CIC, a leading provider of inclusive sports opportunities for deaf and disabled individuals.
Working on both a national and grassroots level, Susanne has worked tirelessly to advocate inclusive adventure sports. As a lover of rock climbing and wakeboarding, Susanne knows firsthand the barriers that disabled people face in the adventure industry and she has dedicated her work to ensure both professionals and disabled individuals are supported to achieve inclusive opportunities.
Susanne’s journey on her quest to being shortlisted for the Positive Role Model for Disability award at the National Diversity Awards 2014 stretches back to when she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 at the age of 19. This genetic condition has no cure and causes tumours to grow throughout Susanne’s central nervous system.
Unfortunately, the condition has had its complications – ultimately leading to Susanne developing facial paralysis and becoming deaf. Whilst such complications would provide a stumbling block for most people, this just made Susanne more determined. She has since received physiotherapy to ease her facial paralysis and mastered the communication of sign language.
As a matter of fact, Susanne’s inspiration to start iDID Adventure CIC came as a result of being refused to go rock climbing due to health and safety issues around her deafness. One day, she was approached by a friend at University to go climbing, but she immediately said she couldn’t – however, her friend persisted and so they decided to go.
The result? Susanne discovered that it was entirely possible for her to climb and that she could also adapt traditional methods to her needs. After creating a different way of communicating whilst climbing, Susanne realised that this issue may be present in other adventurous activities and decided to set out an investigate this with the aim to create a website to inform disabled people about how they can adapt adventure sports to their needs. This objective ultimately resorted in the birth of iDID.
Further to her work with iDID, Susanne runs DDAA Solutions, an organisation specialising in start up support for social entrepreneurs. Through this work, Susanne has supported a number of professionals to develop their passions into a business. Using a two pronged approach, DDAA believes in nurturing and developing the individual, along with their business idea. Life coaching, confidence skills and communications workshops are just some of the additional services on offer to enable personal development.
Susanne is also an Associate on the Common Purpose Global Student Team, and she regularly speaks about effective leadership and is responsible for selecting participants for the Frontrunner course, supporting marketing and providing feedback on course curriculum.
Susanne’s refusal to bow down to the pressures of her disabilities and her willingness to project and share her talents with others is simply inspirational.
It is all of these factors which have contributed towards Susanne being shortlisted for Positive Role Model Award for Disability at The National Diversity Awards 2014.