Tadcaster’s Jemima Browning was last month one of 20 young people worldwide awarded a Legacy Award from Princes William and Harry at St James’ Palace – for her selfless commitment to transforming the lives of others.
Now Jemima, who set up the Tadcaster Stingrays swimming club for disabled young people like her brother Will, is championing National School Sport Week (NSSW) taking place this week 26-30 June and which marked the scheme with an inclusion-themed day yesterday.
Jemima said: “I am extremely passionate about disability sport and feel that everyone should have the same opportunities to take part and succeed.
“From personal experience I have seen how people sometimes struggle to see past a person’s disability, as is the case with my brother.
“People don’t see Will first, they see his Down’s Syndrome and perceive he is ‘different’. This has led to him often feeling excluded, isolated and unhappy.”
Jemima was recently appointed to the prestigious Special Olympics Europe Inclusive Youth Activation Committee (iYAC) alongside Will.
Both have been commended for their work as part of the Play Unified campaign - run by Special Olympics GB and Youth Sport Trust - which aims to break down barriers for those with learning disabilities.
Jemima added: “Play Unified provides the opportunity to bring young people together and, by placing us with the direct responsibility to bring about change, we are able to create more opportunities for all of us.
“Opportunities we can all participate in, making new friends along the way both in and outside of school.
“I passionately believe that we all deserve the same opportunities and should treat each other the same, seeing past our perceived differences because when given a little extra support and opportunity, young people with ID (intellectual disabilities) can achieve anything they set their minds to, in the same way others can.
“I have set up an inclusive committee in my school with other students where we decide together what we can do in school to change attitudes towards people with ID and ensure that we organise activities that appeal to all of us, such as dance and team sports.
“Through this work, it has led to a truly memorable moment for me, with my brother and I representing Great Britain on the Special Olympics European Youth Committee; being the voice of young people across Europe and influencing international policy.
“At Tadcaster Grammar, this is having a positive impact. It is raising awareness of disability and challenging attitudes, promoting co-leadership, giving opportunities to succeed, improving self-esteem, reducing bullying, promoting inclusion and improving the school environment.
“It is a huge privilege to be part of this exciting initiative – shaping all of our futures, creating a unified generation and ensuring young people with disabilities are included.”
NSSW is a huge celebration of everything that is great about PE and school sport. Organisers Youth Sport Trust invited all schools across the United Kingdom to take part.