BT Press Releases

DC11-299                                                                                              8 December 2011

BT and Lord’s Taverners bring Christmas cheer to Stratford special needs school

Newham-born Paralympian and TV star, Ade Adepitan MBE, will give pupils from Stratford’s JFK School a Christmas party they will never forget on Friday 9 December. Ade, a BT Ambassador and former Paralympic bronze medallist, will help unveil the school’s new sensory room and hydrotherapy pool, funded by BT and the Lord's Taverners, armed with 90 Christmas presents for the special needs pupils.

Standing in the shadow of the Olympic Park, JFK School – the only school in the London Borough of Newham that caters for young people with profound physical disabilities – has been given fresh hope for the future after years of witnessing funds being poured into the local area.

The Stratford school now has its very own legacy programme in place thanks to BT and The Lord’s Taverners, the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, who are instigating a £200,000 overhaul that will restore JFK School to the beacon of hope originally opened in 1964 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of iconic US President, John F. Kennedy.

In addition to the facilities being unveiled on Friday, funding is in place to install a soft play area, sensory garden and wheelchair-accessible playground at the school, while The Lord’s Taverners will deliver one of its specially-adapted minibuses next year, enabling the pupils to get out and enjoy the incredible atmosphere the 2012 Games will bring to London.

Numerous Paralympic athletes highlight charity intervention as key to development in young people with a range of disabilities, none fewer than BT Ambassador, Ade Adepitan MBE, who will be on site from 8.30am to hand out Christmas presents to the school’s pupils before officially unveiling the new specialist facilities.

Ade, whose sister attended JFK School, said: “Every time I visit friends and family in Stratford I'm thrilled to see the impact the London 2012 Games is having on my home Borough. As a BT Ambassador and someone who grew up in East London I'm really proud to be involved in supporting the regeneration of the JFK School. Thanks to BT and the Lord's Taverners, the children will benefit from the installation of fantastic new sensory equipment, and all just a stone's throw from the Olympic Park itself. It’s been great to meet the pupils first-hand and to play the role of Santa for the day!"

BT and The Lord’s Taverners joined forces in 2011 to install vital sensory equipment in special needs schools across the UK. Time spent in a sensory area increases spatial awareness, concentration, relaxation and alertness. For young people with autism or severe communication difficulties, the stimulating and soothing properties of these rooms has been shown to calm their behaviour and make them more communicative and responsive.

The partnership is inspired by BT’s continued support of education and sporting initiatives through its London 2012 programme. In addition to installing sensory rooms, BT staff members will volunteer at The Lord’s Taverners youth sports events and fundraise for the charity.

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About the Lord’s Taverners

The Lord’s Taverners is the official Charity for recreational cricket and the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports Charity whose objective is to give young people, particularly those with special needs, a sporting chance. This year The Lord’s Taverners will donate nearly £3 million to help young people of all abilities and backgrounds participate in sporting activities by channelling funding into specific schemes:

● Encouraging participation in youth cricket, particularly in disadvantaged areas – providing grants towards Non-Turf pitches, funding for youth cricket competitions and donating hundreds of cricket bags to clubs and school teams across the UK.
● Supporting recreational and sporting activities for youngsters with special needs – donating specially adapted minibuses and sports wheelchairs giving young people vital transportation and access to sport, and providing grants for play and sports equipment.

Fifty per cent of the funds awarded go to cricket projects - equipment and competitions for those young people playing the game at grass roots level in schools and clubs. The other half is awarded to special needs schools or organisations, supporting their work to encourage youngsters to participate in recreational activities and a wide range of disabled sports. The Lord’s Taverners is passionate about providing mobility and supplies specially adapted minibuses at a rate of almost one every week. It is also one of the leading funders of sports wheelchairs.

The Lord’s Taverners benefits hugely from the support its highly regarded members, many of them drawn from the world of sport and entertainment. The list includes Mike Gatting, Alastair Cook, Chris Tarrant, Andrew Flintoff, Bill Tidy, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Rachael Heyhoe Flint, James Haskell and Colin Salmon.

The Lord’s Taverners was founded in 1950 and has raised and distributed over £30m to schools, clubs and special needs organisations in the UK in the last decade.

You can find out more about The Lord’s Taverners and future fundraising events at www.lordstaverners.org

The Lord’s Taverners – Registered Charity No. 306054