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Ade's Story

To mark our 30th anniversary, we’re releasing 30 stories from wheelchair users across our history.

This ambitious and historic project will result in stories being archived as part of the The British Library Sound Archives ensuring that the life experiences of wheelchair users today are captured forever..With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The British Library for their support.

One of Britain’s most recognisable wheelchair users, Ade Adepitan has a reputation built on Paralympic basketball skills, TV presenting and writing inspirational books. Read on - or listen in - to understand the determination that led to Ade’s achievements, and how his ‘disability’ is born in other people’s minds.

‘Ade as author’ - Listen to this clip

“The essence of the book was a book which was based around friendship and the importance of friendship and how it was OK to be different and how everyone of us has a superhero within us, you know, we all have the ability to do something great. No matter who we are or where we come from you know we just have to have the right people around us and to believe in ourselves.”

“I wanted to write a book that children could read with their parents. The child can ask the parents those questions you know ‘Why do people say that just because of the colour of someone’s skin?’… to talk about disability, to talk about what it feels like to be bullied, and wrap within that a few fart jokes to make people laugh aswell!

Watching the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in Plaistow, East London - Listen to this clip 

“I would sit on the sofa and I would close my eyes as tight as I could and imagine that I was in that race in Los Angeles… and as soon as the gun would go off I’d start pumping my arms imagining that I was doing the 100 metres… I’d even do a dip at the end… For a young child like me it was mesmerising.”


"2012 Changed Everything" - Listen to this clip 

“London 2012 was an absolute gamechanger... I was fortunate enough to be part of Channel 4’s team that was helping devise their strategy for how they were going to change the public’s perceptions of the paralympics... We wanted to demystify the Paralympics. I wanted these Paralympics to be those games that suddenly took that opaqueness from people’s eyes and made them see disability with crystal clarity. And the way to do this was to show it in a way that people would understand how cool it was and how incredible these people were as athletes and I think we were successful at that.”

On a mission to be a Paralympian

“My ambition in life was to be like those incredible god-like athletes. I wanted to be one of them, I wanted to be part of that team. And I just went on this mission for the rest of my life. It took me the best part of 15 years… I got dropped and turned down I think about 7 or 8 times” 

“When that opportunity finally came… I looked on the list and suddenly I saw my name with it saying ’Congratulations you have been selected for the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics’. It was everything. It was everything that I’d ever wanted.”

”It was like this dream that I thought on many occasions would never come true. Also I started to think you know people like me didn’t get that kind of success. You know, I wasn’t destined for it.”

“Even now when I think about it it makes me feel excited I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about something that happened twenty years ago.”

“The only thing that exists is our ability” - Listen to this clip

“Right now I think there hasn’t been a better time to be disabled because there are so many tools and so many opportunities for us to try and make a difference in the world.”

“The only thing that gives us a disability is other people’s mindsets and the way society is structured.”

“If society is set up in the right way, if buildings are made accessible, if people's minds are accessible, if transport is made accessible then disability doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is our ability.”

For Kidz

For Families

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