File photo                                 South Surrey resident Alexander Magnussen speaks at a TEDx event in Langley.

File photo South Surrey resident Alexander Magnussen speaks at a TEDx event in Langley.

South Surrey self-advocate WOWs

Alexander Magnussen celebrated with Community Living BC award

A South Surrey man who strives to build awareness and understanding for people with diverse abilities is among five winners of a Community Living BC 2017 Widening Our World (WOW) award.

Alexander Magnussen, chair of Semiahmoo Self Advocates, was named in a news release Wednesday announcing the winners.

The WOW awards, in their ninth year, recognize the recipients’ “courage, leadership, innovation and dedication in supporting their communities to more fully include people with diverse abilities,” the release states.

Forty-seven nominations were received from across B.C. last fall, each one lauding a nominee’s efforts to build inclusion, create employment opportunities or increase access to community and social networks for people with developmental disabilities.

In nominating Magnussen, Jill Glennie – involvement co-ordinator at Semiahmoo House Society, who was herself nominated for a WOW award – describes him as “an Inclusion Consultant and Advocate.”

“He speaks to hundreds of people every year, promoting awareness, understanding, inclusion and support for people with diversabilities,” Glennie wrote.

In addition to chairing SAS – which formed to, among other things, promote inclusion – Magnussen uses the public stage to encourage people not to be too quick to judge someone’s abilities by how they look.

“They may not be presenting themselves in the way they want to, but there’s a secret genius in there,” he told Peace Arch News in 2016.

His efforts have also extended to provincial and national levels.

In November of 2016, he and fellow SAS member Mikayla Robinson were selected to participate in a National Youth Forum in Ottawa; Magnussen also participated last June in B.C.’s first-ever Disability Pride Celebration and March.

Other WOW award recipients are Langley’s Nick Norani and John Archibald; Peggy Nancarrow in Esquimalt; and Eve Reinarz in Nanaimo.

The awards are to be presented in each winner’s hometown in February and March, the release states.