Ability in dis-ABILITY

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Here is an article written by Journalist Vicky Briggs about Daisy UK

Daisy UK article
Sport, and football in particular, brings joy to many millions of spectators worldwide on
a daily basis, be it Sky’s latest “Monday Night Football” craze for armchair fans,
Thursday night’s Europa League or Sunday morning’s non league scraps, watching
football is the favourite past time of umpteen people.

However, sport can be so much more, and indeed is so much more, to many people.
Daisy UK is a Liverpool born and bred charity, set up by the inspirational
Dave Kelly, that uses sport to empower, inspire and support disabled people across Merseyside.
“We get a lot of letters from parents and kids saying we’ve saved their lives”.
That was Mr Kelly’s opening gambit, and it sums up the rest of the interview.
His, and Daisy UK’s, emphasis on “reverse inclusion” is refreshing, innovative and hugely
successful. Reverse inclusion is based upon disabilityled sports, accessible to
participants with a range of disabilities, in which non
disabled participants are
included. This is an incredibly effective way of increasing understanding about
disability, subsequently reducing prejudice towards disabled people, and easing the
pressure of finding activities for families with children with varying needs. As he
comments, “ they help each other”. Indeed, Daisy UK is so much more than a sports
organisation; it is a real life social network.
The support provided by Daisy UK is comprehensive; Dave comments that “I would
rather help one person 100% then 100 people 1%”, and that
ethos is clear. Daisy offer highly individual, personal support.

It felt as though Dave took me on a journey of his life while we were talking, the
descriptions so vivid and words so honest I may as well have been viewing all he told
me through a pensieve. I asked him how he came to establish the charity and he started
a few years after he left school, when his trade as a plasterer took him to a job at a
school for blind children. He paints a beautiful picture of the workmen playing blind
football with the children on their lunch break, but the nostalgia is shattered slightly as
he develops the story of how two recessive genes gave him an eye condition that would
render him blind by thirty; “I was looking at them through a different set of eyes and it
was scary. I used to talk to them, asking what’s it like being blind”. Back then there was
a distinct lack of support for families of blind people and blind people, and Dave talks
with sincerity and a distinct lack of self
pity about the years he spent alone and struggling as he battled with the loss of his sight. Daisy came to him in a dream in that dark period of his life, and he describes how he “woke up with energy and motivation”
for the first time in years. He heard “black birds singing” and “people coming home Daisy Inclusive UK a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number In England and
Wales 1140148. Brockman Hall, 1B Snaefell Avenue, Liverpool, L13 7HA.
from clubs”, and he explains his urge to help people using sport, through his
subconscious creation
- Daisy.

“I was a blind scouser right, with nothing, I had no money, no education, nothing. I
thought how do I do it, how do I do this.”
It is safe to say he overcame the hurdles, and today Daisy is thriving. It in undeniable
that Dave is perfectly placed to lead such a project; he has, as he says, “been to hell and
back” and that experience has imparted such empathy, such understanding and such
passion. “I swore I would do anything, everything, to help people not be in that place
that I was in, and that is why I am so determined at what I do”-
such determination.

“The forgotten heroes are the young children who are born with horrendous problems,
whose families have fallen apart; they’re the heroes and they’re the unsung heroes, they
haven’t asked for any of that and sometimes in society we focus on what’s in front of us
now...that’s my battle”. It is clear that Dave finds the people he works with tru

Daisy aim to spread their message by going in to schools and teaching inclusion through
sport via a programme called Visual Disability Awareness Through Sport, which
involves understanding disability, developing communication skills, pr
oviding a forum
for questions and more specialised training on specific disability groups. This is then
developed through accessible sports, such as wheelchair basketball and blind football;
empathy particularly is developed by people having the opportunity to experience a
disability they have not got, for instance, playing blind football whilst blindfolded. This
develops a highly transferrable awareness and understanding of disability that can be
utilised outside sporting avenues; “they take the ‘dis’ out
of disability and just see the ability”.

When I asked Dave why he chose sport as the key means of promoting tolerance,
understanding and empowerment his reply was simple; “I’ve always loved sport”.
Perhaps more than most; Dave completed the 874 mile jour
ney from Lands End to John
O’Groats on a tandem, to prove to the world that his blindness was not an impediment
to achieving his potential. This reflects his hugely positive perspective; “let’s focus on
what we can do here, on what we do, and how good we c
an do it and put a smile back”.
And it’s not just Merseyside in which Daisy UK are making a difference; Dave took Daisy
to schools in Belgium, which he described as “100 years behind” in terms of equality
and awareness regarding disability. His journey a
nd his achievements write an incredibly inspiring story. He described it perfectly for me; “from a blind Scouser who had no education, no money, no nothing, no hope, trying to beat the system and work
my way up, I got everything I needed education wise, met so many fantastic people,

Daisy Inclusive UK a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number In England and
Wales 1140148. Brockman Hall, 1B Snaefell Avenue, Liverpool, L13 7HA.
started up Daisy, we won awards, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg-there is so much to
do and I won’t let the system beat me”.

Author: Vicky Briggs

Edited By: Daisy Inclusive UK

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