YOUR article (8 August) about swimmer Andrew Mullen, 16, who was born with “shortened limbs”, and who, after success in Intermediate 2 exams, is now preparing for the upcoming Paralympics, was uplifting.
On 7 August, members of Results UK (advocates for the poorest in the developing world) heard from Anne Wafula Strike, a Paralympic wheelchair racer from Kenya. She contracted polio when she was two. The community she lived in – believing that she was cursed – threatened to burn her family’s house if they did not leave.
They fled to Nairobi. Rejection and discrimination continued, however. Fellow pupils avoided her as she crawled up steps that were difficult to negotiate with calipers and crutches.
Despite such experiences Anne – with the support of her father, a staunch believer in education – qualified as a teacher. After her competing in Athens in 2004, Anne became an activist for the disabled in the Third World. Having married a Brit, Norman Strike, she raced for Team GB in the 2007 Para World Games, winning a bronze medal.
Anne said a large proportion of the para teams from the poorer nations are made up of young folk who have had no education and after their brief time in the limelight return to poverty.
Currently, 21 million young people with disabilities are not receiving schooling. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, is pressing for action on this issue before 2015 and David Cameron is chairing the panel that has to design new, post-2015 millennium development goals.The reading public must encourage “inclusive” initiatives.
We in Results UK wish Andrew Mullen success in the Paralympics. We wish him well in future exams and trust that his education will bring him fulfilment and much happiness.
Linlithgow, West Lothian
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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