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Youth of Today Project – Young Disabled Leaders

Young Disabled Leaders was a project funded by the Young Foundation (YF) and a joint project between The Royal Association for Disability Rights (Radar) and Community Services Volunteers (CSV)

“I have a dream”. This statement could be true for all of us and none more so than all of the young people involved in Radar’s current youth project – Young Disabled Leaders. Their dream is to have their skills and talents recognised and showcased to achieve a brighter future for all.

Young Disabled Leaders is a joint project between CSV and Radar: combining CSV’s expertise in youth leadership training with Radar’s expertise in the disability sector and leadership and empowerment training. It has been funded through the Youth Leadership Fund, managed by The Young Foundation. The project is aimed towards working with inspiring young people with a disability, to encourage them and give them the support they want to get motivated and on the road to achieving their true potential.

Working towards achieving that aim, this exciting new project is unearthing hidden and valuable talents in the young participants all aged between thirteen and nineteen years old. One training exercise, based on the popular series ‘Dragon’s Den’, saw these quiet, unassuming characters turn into business moguls who could have given Alan Sugar a run for his money. Seeing their grit and determination to secure hypothetical funding made all in attendance marvel at their confidence and eloquence. One has to wonder why we have never seen someone with a disability on a show like ‘The Junior Apprentice’ or its grown-up version ‘The Apprentice’. It would be great to show the country what untapped talents lie dormant in these young people.

That said, the training events are not all board-rooms and pitches. We recently held our second event for the north of England in the beautiful surroundings of St John’s School for the deaf, Boston Spa. It truly was a fantastic venue for a fantastic day. Everyone braved the snow and rain and all agreed it was definitely worth it. Flower pots, mission impossible tasks, Dragon’s Den, logo designing for the campaign materials and spelling gymnastics – it was fun packed to say the least.

The northern event closely followed the successful second event for London. A very impressive venue in London saw young people from across London come together for a day of activity. One of the trainers, Tony, a very experienced and well-known director, showed us how to be good leaders through his own unique and dramatic approach.

In all of the events we have really seen some amazing skills coming through from all in attendance. We have learnt that leading doesn’t always mean being in the limelight, at the front, or being the loudest. Many things are involved in being a leader and it seems that the young leaders have these attributes in the sack-full.

Abdi Gas the events coordinator for Radar said,

“For me, this programme has been an inspiration. As someone who grew up wanting to be the Prime Minister but having no-one to guide me on the right path, I feel privileged to be able to play a part in developing the leadership skills of the younger generation. Seeing these young leaders on their own personal journey is remarkable – seeing them coming out of their shells and becoming the people that we know that they can be stands as testament to the value of a project like this and to the dedication of all of those involved. I am sure that the faces we see in this project will go on to realise not only their but many others’ dreams.”

Background

Young Disabled Leaders was a one-year project to March 31st 2011 on which CSV (now Volunteering Matters) worked alongside RADAR (now part of Disability Rights UK), with support from the Young Foundation to help give young disabled people greater confidence and encouragement to take up leadership roles.

The report, Young Disabled Leaders: Engaging The Power House, describes how the project came about; what it did; and offers some guidance to organisations for future youth engagement and volunteering by disabled people.