A month of activity will raise awareness and funds for Leonard Cheshire’s work in Zambia, where the charity supports hundreds of children with disabilities to get a mainstream school place. 

Paralysed in a car crash aged 18, Sophie is an award-winning disability activist and an ambassador for Leonard Cheshire’s international work.

Sophie has an impressive television career that includes fronting all live coverage of Paralympic sport for Channel 4 as well as presenting cutting-edge documentaries such as The World’s Worst Place to be Disabled for the BBC on human rights abuses towards disabled people in Ghana in 2015. She has also reported for Channel 4’s award-winning current affairs strand Unreported World.

Sophie is acutely aware of the situation for young disabled children in Africa: “As a reporter, I have witnessed first-hand how the stigma attached to disability can lead to devastating consequences. As someone with a disability, I believe there is no greater casualty of such prejudice and discrimination than disabled children. Across Africa, children with physical, sensory and intellectual impairments are being left behind, and often even the simplest solutions can make all the difference. Where these solutions matter most is in schooling, without which generations of disabled children will fail to live the life they deserve”

Leonard Cheshire’s inclusive education projects in Africa and Asia have supported more than 30,000 children into education.

Only 10% of children with disabilities attend school globally, and the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is 3%. The picture for women with disabilities is even bleaker at just 1% and young girls growing up with disabilities in Africa can suffer the most intense stigma and in some cases, sexual violence.

In Zambia, the situation is typical, and children are often denied a school place due to their disability.

The Zambian project will see Leonard Cheshire’s work expand to the Eastern Province of the country and reach 750 children across 30 primary schools for the first time. It will also train 100 teachers and education officials, giving them tools to ensure inclusive learning, and will work with parents and pupils, running child to child clubs and encouraging male mentors to reduce stigma.

The campaign kicks off on 30 December – for further information on the project and Leonard Cheshire’s inclusive education work.

The appeal will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at the following times:

  • Sunday 6th Jan:  0754am
  • Sunday 6th Jan: 21.25pm
  • Thursday 10th Jan: 15.27pm