The £496,457 grant, awarded to disabled children and young people’s charity Whizz-Kidz, is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s wider People and Places programme, and will focus on supporting and empowering disabled children and young people across Wales to fulfil their potential.
Josh Rosenthal, 20, from Llanelli, is the Whizz-Kidz Kidz Board member for Wales and also a member of the advisory panel for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. He said: “I have seen first-hand the impact that Whizz-Kidz has had on the lives of so many disabled children and young people in Wales, including my own.
“I have been attending the Ambassador Clubs and camps for around five years now and it has helped me to be confident enough to be able to communicate my needs independently without needing help from others, as well as having the skills to achieve my goals, including attending university in September. Whizz-Kidz encouraged me to believe in myself and also inspired me to become an advocate for young wheelchair users across Wales. There are still many other young wheelchair users out there who need essential support, so I am glad to know that this funding will allow us to reach them.”
Over the next three years, this substantial grant will fund the Whizz-Kidz in the Lead programme. The community centred activity will focus on developing existing services and expanding into West, Mid and parts of North Wales, with a network of additional Ambassador Clubs in Llanelli, Monmouth and Wrexham, in which the children and young people can meet and socialise with other wheelchair users, take part in life skills training and specialist camps.
The employability programme will also run via schools and Ambassador Clubs and provide a series of work placements, skills days and bespoke support that young disabled people need to move into work.
Ruth Owen OBE, chief executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: “We are thrilled to receive this vital funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which will make an enormous difference to the lives of disabled children and young people in Wales. We know that young wheelchair users can often feel isolated and alone and the right support is critical in allowing a positive transition from adolescence to adulthood.
“This grant will now allow us to expand our existing services in Wales and we are confident that this long-term holistic support will provide disabled children and young people with the skills, confidence and the independence they need to live the lives that they deserve.”
Each year, the Big Lottery Fund distributes millions of pounds of the National Lottery's good cause money to community groups and charitable projects around the UK. Projects like Whizz-Kidz in the Lead are made possible thanks to players of the National Lottery.
Highlighting the importance of the People and Places programme, Rona Aldrich, Wales Committee Member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales.
“It delivers on our promise to use National Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy.”
Whizz-Kidz has transformed the lives of over 20,000 disabled children and young people since 1990 – often, literally overnight. It supports 2-25 year-olds by providing the vital mobility equipment, support and life skills they need, to help them fulfil their potential and achieve their goals.