Nigerian-born athlete Ade Adepitan lost the use of his legs after contracting polio at the age of 6 months. Determined to become an athlete after becoming obsessed with the Olympic Games at a young age, hard work and determination has led Ade to fulfil his dreams. Ade has become a Paralympian basketball player winning top honours in his sport, completed the London Marathon, as well as forged a career as a successful television host, presenting shows for both children and adults on the BBC, including reporting on their Children in Need charity work. His work ethic, lively personality, and all around enthusiasm for life has made him a great role model for young people. In 2005, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services in disability sport and was awarded Honorary Doctorates from both Loughborough University and the University of East London.
BBC Children in Need is the BBC’s UK corporate charity, awarding grants to organisations each year who support disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a childhood that is safe, happy and secure, as well as one that allows them to reach their full potential. It has raised over £600 million since its first broadcast in 1980, and continues to stay devoted to raising money exclusively destined for charities working with children in the UK. Their grant programme extends to small and large organisations that empower children and extend their life choices. Wac Arts was one of 10 UK charities taking part in the BBC Children in Need’s Fun and Friendship Phase 1 programme and were successfully awarded another grant in Phase 2 along with The Children’s Society.
BBC Children in Need designed the Fun and Friendship programme around research done by the University of Birmingham to create opportunities for disabled young people to meet friends and engage independently in a safe and fun environment. The Fun and Friendship programme is designed to focus on the importance of friendship. Friendship is simply too important to be viewed as an extra rather than a necessity that can help with developing confidence and independence. In the absence of friendship, one can feel isolated and loneliness which can lead to negative effects and feelings. This is no less true for a young person living with a disability than it is for everyone else. The programme displays how changing attitudes and adequate training can make a substantial difference in lowering barriers for fun and friendship. Projects actively support disabled young people to have fun, meet friends, and to develop skills to become more independent in social situations. They promote participation and encourage the leadership skills of young people as well as support them in overcoming these particular barriers creating shared learning experiences with other participating projects and organisations. The Fun and Friendship Programme continues to create an attitudinal shift whilst influence policy and practice across the nation.
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