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Post People: Training Barking and Dagenham’s future sporting leaders

PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 January 2017

Bradley, fourth from left, and Barry Hearn, fourth from right, with disabled sports trainers from Barking and Dagenham.
Picture by Ellie Hoskins

Bradley, fourth from left, and Barry Hearn, fourth from right, with disabled sports trainers from Barking and Dagenham. Picture by Ellie Hoskins

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Former Eastbury Community School pupil Bradley Whitby, 29, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates how he helps disabled people gain confidence using sport

Bradley Whitby trains disabled people in Barking and Dagenham to become sporting leaders 
Picture by Ellie Hoskins Bradley Whitby trains disabled people in Barking and Dagenham to become sporting leaders Picture by Ellie Hoskins

“I started my time in the voluntary centre running art projects at the Maple Centre.

“My first day working at the River Road site in Barking was a bit of a shock, but the more I worked with disabled people I absolutely loved it.

“Helping disabled young people is one of the most rewarding things you can do because you see them develop from people who don’t want to get involved and isolate themselves to people who lead groups.

“Since 2012 I’ve been working at the Barking and Dagenham Progress Project in Wooodward Road, Dagenham.

“As a participation officer, I run the Sporting Futures Project, which invites groups like the British American Football Association to train young people with learning difficulties.

“Once they’re trained up, we send them to train other disabled people in sport.

“It’s fantastic to see them go from having low confidence to leading sessions and last year they worked with 219 disabled people across the borough.

“We had one young man with learning difficulties who coached 94 people in a football session last year.

“The skills we teach our members also helps with employability. And when it’s young disabled people helping other young people with learning difficulties it works a lot better than having some from the mainstream.

“People with disabilities can use their experiences, consider how they’ve developed and pass that on to younger people. The way they use that experience is phenomenal.

“On Friday we had our first awards ceremony for our members who’ve become sporting leaders across Barking and Dagenham.

“It was our chance to give them some recognition for the work they’ve done in the past year and also present them with the certificates they’ve earned during their training with us, which I hope they’ve all enjoyed.”

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