Much to my surprise and delight, Special Needs Jungle has been shortlisted in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2014 in the HEALTH category.
I'm surprised, because I didn't "enter" - that is, have a logo or ask for votes because, having won in 2012, I know it takes a lot of effort to see it through and I was just thrilled to have won once. I didn't like to ask again! Having never won anything before, I was just going to be satisfied with that.
So, this year, I didn't think much about it other than voting for my favourites (other than us!)
Being able to say the blog was "award-winning" has been awesome and I will always be grateful to everyone at BritMums and those who voted as it really helped to pin SNJ on the map in the eyes of so many.
And it has to be said, anyone who manages to sustain a blog over a long period is doing brilliantly - having started SNJ six years ago, I know how time consuming it can be. Some people seem to think the blog is a large organisation as I receive emails to "Marketing Department" and so on. No, it's just me, our Debs and our lovely columnists, all doing this for nowt. (That's Northern for "no money" as in "free"). For now, at least.
But for me, it has always been incredibly rewarding when I know that I have helped someone to help their child get the education or health care that they needed. Often, a thank you email comes on a really tough day and it is what has made me not want to give up, even when I could do little more than sleep, wake up, shower and sleep again.
Special Needs Jungle and I have been on quite a journey since 2012. Just a few months after my win, I fell ill and was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, just a few months after Son2 had received the same diagnosis. Because I didn't want to give up everything, I invited Debs Aspland on board and six months later we expanded again to bring in our wonderful columnists, Hayley, Renata, Rob, Angela, Helen & Elizabeth and Charlie. Each has their own speciality and they have expanded SNJ's outlook to cover physical disability, undiagnosed children, rare conditions, speech and language, vulnerable children and psychology issues.
I am particularly pleased that this 2014 Health category is sponsored by Kids Company. In my 'thank you' speech after SNJ's 2012 win, I asked the other bloggers to help us speak up for vulnerable children and those who don't have loving mums to write about them. I don't know if anyone did, but we do here at Special Needs Jungle and thanks to our columnist Charlie Mead, will continue to do so.
This year, Hayley (who is speaking at BritMums too) is also shortlisted in two categories in her own right for DownsSide Up and Renata is shortlisted for Just Bring The Chocolate.
We are about to begin building a comprehensive SNJ Resource Hub that will gather together as many links as possible on SEN/ disability & health topics that are scattered across the web, so you don't have to go searching yourself. If you want to add yours into our interim Hub, please do so - whether it's your blog, your support group or charity or even a resource you've made yourself for children and young people with additional needs, mental or physical health issues. All links here will be included in the new Hub and if you add it yourself you can be sure it's displayed just as you want it to be.
If you're an organisation and you'd like to sponsor the Hub to help us get it done faster, let me know
So now, it looks like we're in it to win it at BritMums and thanks to all the fab people who voted for us in the initial stage without being asked to. You've certainly cheered us up as you will know that as Mums, and especially mums with special needs kids, life is definitely a roller-coaster even if you're in tip top health yourself. If you'd be so kind as to tick a box one more time, that would be really, really kind of you.
Special Needs Jungle is in Category Number 15, under "The" rather than "Special" lol. (and you will Find Hayley in 17 & 18 and Renata in Number 5)