Sunderland teenager Brandon Barker is hitting the road for a capital challenge.
The 19-year-old, from Red House, has spastic paraplegia, which requires him to use a wheelchair at all times.
This Sunday he will be taking part in the world’s first fully accessible fun run, Parallel London, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and raising funds to help transform the lives of other disabled children and young people across the UK.
Brandon got his first wheelchair from disabled children and young people’s charity Whizz-Kidz when he was just three-years-old and is the North East’s representative on the charity’s ‘Kidz Board’.
The Pride of Wearside award winner, who is also a youth ambassador for the Tall Ships Race’s visit to Sunderland, will be taking part in the 10km challenge to raise vital funds for Whizz-Kidz and help thousands of disabled children and young people who need the right equipment and support.
“I’m very excited to be taking part in Parallel London this year,” he said.
It’s great to see an event that is fully accessible to everyone no matter your age or ability. I hope that Parallel London is just the start of many more events that encourage inclusivity.Brandon Barker
“It’s great to see an event that is fully accessible to everyone no matter your age or ability. I hope that Parallel London is just the start of many more events that encourage inclusivity.
“Many disabled young people feel like sport and activity isn’t for them but Parallel proves that it can be.”
Among those taking part will be former captain of the Great British Junior Wheelchair Basketball team and Channel 4 sports reporter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, who has a prosthetic leg after being born without the fibula bone in his right leg and a deformed foot: “London’s 2012 Paralympics and this year’s Para Athletics have paved the way in helping disabled people feel included within sport and activity,” he said.
“Parallel has gone one step further in the wake of this fantastic legacy, as an event that encourages everyone to take part, no matter what your age or ability.
“I am delighted to be running alongside Brandon for Whizz-Kidz in this year’s Parallel London, as a patron and an advocate for the incredible work they do to support disabled children and young people across the UK fulfil their potential.”
Founded by Andrew Douglass, the Parallel London fun run and family festival is open to participants of all ages and abilities, with wheelchair users and runners competing side by side. There are no cut off times and its aim is to remove barriers, dispel preconceptions and release potential.
Cecilia Magill, senior events fundraising manager for Whizz-Kidz, said: “Fully accessible and inclusive events like Parallel London are a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on inclusivity within sport and activity for everyone and also a chance for disabled children, young people and their families to get involved in what will be a fantastic day.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Parallel London this year and working together to make this event a possibility. We would like to thank all of our participants, like Brandon, for taking part and raising funds.
“Without their invaluable support, we would simply not be able to carry on our vital work helping to transform the lives of disabled children and young people across the UK.
“There is much still to be done to ensure that they have the right equipment and support to live the lives that they deserve.”
For further information visit www.whizz-kidz.org.uk.