Norwich teen joins gold medallist to launch Olympic report
PUBLISHED: 11:49 19 February 2013 | UPDATED: 11:49 19 February 2013
Joel Connor-Saunders is a busy young man juggling school and playing in Norwich’s Lowriders wheelchair basketball team.
But it is the 16-year-old’s work with the charity Whizz-Kidz that takes him to Westminster later this month.
On Wednesday, February 27, Joel joins Paralympic double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft at Parliament to launch the charity’s Generation Inspired? report, a survey of young disabled people’s hopes for a legacy following last summer’s Paralympic Games.
Joel, who lives in Wordsworth Road, Earlham with his parents Paul and Tina and sister, Bailey, 18, has been in a wheelchair all his life.
Whizz-Kidz supports young disabled people to access the right wheelchairs and delivers wheelchair skills-training and work placements to prepare them for a bright future.
It also runs a Norwich ambassador club, a space for local disabled children to make friends, have fun, and learn new skills which takes place every six to eight weeks in the city.
Joel, who is an ambassador for the charity, sits on Whizz-Kidz’s Kidz board, and helps write key recommendations on how sport, transport, and employers can be more accessible to disabled youngsters.
He said that the organisation had helped to boost his confidence.
“It has been a big thing for me,” he said. I have been able to do things that I wouldn’t have done before and it has helped me get involved with things.
“It has encouraged me to grow as a person and it has helped me socially.”
It costs the charity £3,500 for a lightweight wheelchair and around £5,500 for a powered wheelchair.
Whizz-Kidz has supported 38 children in Norfolk and currently has four children, including Joel, in the county on its waiting list.
The CNS pupil, who plays basketball for Norwich Lowriders and became a basketball coach when he was just 14, plans to carve a career as a sports coach.
Norfolk-based Whizz-Kidz fundraiser, Jessica Hiscocks, said: “We are desperate for volunteers and supporters in Norfolk in order to help the children on our waiting list in the county. It doesn’t matter whether someone can help for two hours or 200, we would be so grateful for the support.
“We have supermarket collections coming up which we are looking for volunteers to help with. We are also holding a skydiving day at Ellough Airfield in Beccles on September 14 and looking for daredevils to take part and raise funds to give disabled kids their independence.”
To find out more about fundraising, volunteering, or working with Whizz-Kidz locally, please contact Jessica Hiscocks on 01603 633656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.