An inspirational teenager who conquered a debilitating speech impairment and set up a support group for others has been named a winner at the Pride of Birmingham awards.
Mikey Akers has been named the winner of the Stephen Sutton Inspiration Award for his tireless campaigning to raise awareness about verbal dyspraxia.
Mikey, who was diagnosed when he was two years old, struggled to learn to speak and could not make himself understood by anyone outside of his family until he was eight.
The condition meant that the Alderbrook School pupil struggled to form the precise mouth movements needed to produce sounds, making speech very difficult.
Mikey admits that sometimes his condition could make him feel lonely, but believes that finally being able to ‘find his voice’ made him into the person he is today.
Despite the crippling condition, and at one point being put back four years at school, Mikey worked relentlessly to overcome the condition and recently achieved six GCSEs.
He later went on to found Mikey’s Wish, a campaign and support group for verbal dyspraxia.
“Watching everyone around me finding talking so easy when I had to work so hard to find my voice was difficult,” admits Mikey, from Balsall Common.
“Growing up knowing I was different; struggling every day in school; being sent to a senior school away from my friends because they had a learning support unit; not being able to express my intelligence either verbally or in my school work – it was all so hard.
“It did knock my self-esteem and confidence so badly.
“Living with a diagnosis that no-one has heard of is also so lonely, even though I have always been surrounded by an amazing group of friends.
“I do believe, though, that it is my fight to find my voice that has moulded me into the person I am today.