September 6, 2017

On today's show Adrian visits Variety - The Children's Charity in London and talks with Sarah Nancollas, the Chief Executive.

Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence can plague children with disabilities. Allowing them to have equal access to sports can enhance their gross motor skills, social and communicating abilities, as well as improve their overall health and well-being. 

Often children with special needs lack the ability to perform physical movements properly. When disabled children participate in regular physical activity, it enhances their motor skills by increasing their strength, coordination, flexibility and balance.

Disabled children often miss out on social activities, which limits their opportunities to improve their communication skills. Participation in extracurricular activities can overcome this obstacle, offering them the ability to engage in social interactions, develop friendships and initiate social skills.

There are some major emotional issues that many disabled youth will at some point experience. Having disabled children take part in a recreational activity can help prevent or lessen different emotional conditions - acting out behavior, depression, trouble adjusting to certain situations, stress, anxiety and bad behavior. Providing them with a certain amount of activity can help in this area.

Children who suffer with disabilities often struggle with a lack of self-esteem. They frequently will compare themselves with their able-bodied peers, giving them a decreased sense of self-worth. Recreational participation promotes their self-concept, self-esteem and self-worth, as well as their body awareness. Many children will also show improvements in their academics. They can gain confidence from their success in sports which will make them feel like they are capable of achieving almost anything.

While in London, Adrian got a chance to talk with Sarah Nancollas, Executive Director of Variety - The Children's Charity UK.

Adrian with Sarah Nancollas
Adrian with Sarah Nancollas

Variety was brought there by movie moguls from the USA and inaugurated in the UK in 1949 (as The Variety Club of Great Britain).  Variety was one of the UK’s first charities to be founded especially for children and young people.

They have been helping children with disabilities in the UK since 1949. They provide practical, tangible help that makes an immediate difference to those children and their families. This means everything from giving life-changing equipment, improving mobility and organizing Great Days Out to create the memories that every child deserves.

They know how tough children’s lives can be sometimes, the daily struggle that comes with a long-term illness or disability. However, they also know that sometimes the real pain can come from the hidden challenges and barriers, the small, everyday activities children with disabilities miss out on. Sports is one of them.

To this end, they commissioned a research report, “Is There a Level Playing Field” to begin to understand the barriers that prevent children with a disability accessing sport, and what we can all do about it. Their goal is to overcome the barriers children with disabilities face in enjoying sport.
Variety’s report identified two major barriers to children with disabilities taking part in sport. First and foremost was social stigma. Over a third (36%) of parents reported that their child had experienced negative social attitudes to their health problem or disability in relation to sport.

The second major barrier was costs. 4 out of 5 (76%) Special Educational Needs schools surveyed said facilities or equipment were a barrier to children participating in sports, whilst two-thirds (66%) of mainstream schools said transportation was a barrier.

One in two (50%) parents in Britain with a child with disabilities aged 4 to 18 say their child doesn’t feel comfortable taking part in sports with other children.  Just 1 in 5 children with disabilities plays sports with their friends.

This is just one of their areas of focus.  Sarah talks with us about their wide range of programs and the difference they are making in the lives of these disabled children.


Sanjana and Nandini
Sanjana and Nandini

Kimberly O'Keefe brings us today's Peace Fund Heroes of the Week, Sanjana Gangadharan and Nandini Arakoni, co-founders of the nonprofit Side by Side Smiles.

Thousands of children around the world are affected by clefts lips and/or cleft palates. Furthermore, 93% of these children who do not receive surgery will die before their 20th birthday. None of these kids should be forced to suffer when there is a simple solution that only costs $250. Side by Side Smiles is dedicated to helping sponsor cleft surgeries for children who cannot afford them. For more information on how to donate, you can visit the bracelet page to purchase a handmade charm bracelet and learn more about the special meaning behind the jewelry item. Side by Side Smiles hopes to motivate and inspire others to help make a positive impact on the world. 

As a co-founder of this charity, Nandini has a personal attachment to the cause behind Side by Side Smiles. Her family immediately found out that she had a cleft lip when she was born. She says she was incredibly lucky to have access to the proper care and resources that were necessary to treat her cleft lip. After a few surgeries, she was left with nothing more than a little scar as a reminder of my cleft journey. Additionally, she grew up with a completely normal childhood, but unfortunately, thousands of children are robbed of this same opportunity.