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Trailblazers state their case to Parliament

YOUNG disability rights campaigners presented No. 10 Downing Street with a petition demanding improved transport, education and leisure services for disabled people across the UK.

The campaigners were from the Trailblazers, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s pressure group of 16 to 30 year olds.

The Trailblazers were later joined at Parliament by fellow campaigners, ministers and MPs, where they presented results of the pressure group’s investigations and demands for better disabled access.

Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe and regional MPs were there to support the launch of the Trailblazers’  Inclusion Now report.

Since July 2008 the Trailblazers have published three hard-hitting reports which revealed that:

Wheelchair users regularly pay more to use public transport than their non-disabled peers and are made to feel like second-class citizens on public transport because of inaccessible stations and a lack of awareness from staff;

One in 10 disabled students don’t have accommodation, cooking and dining facilities that are integrated into mainstream university life;

Four out of five young disabled people say they cannot pursue a leisure activity spontaneously because access is so often restricted for disabled people.

Trailblazer Kim Randle said: “This report is the culmination of almost a year and a half of hard work investigating the state of the UK’s facilities for disabled people.

“We’ve found there’s still a lot to be done to give disabled people the same experiences on transport, in education and at leisure venues as our non-disabled peers, and hopefully this petition and the launch of Inclusion Now will help us to begin making these changes”.

Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said: “The young people behind the Trailblazers campaign are doing a fantastic job of highlighting the difference leisure activities like sport can make to people’s lives.

“There should be no barriers to people who want to take part, whether they’re playing or watching – that’s why it’s so important that these inspiring stories are heard. I wish the campaign all the best for the future.”

Muscular Dystrophy facts

More than 60,000 people in the UK have muscular dystrophy or a related condition. A further 300,000 people are affected indirectly as family, friends or carers.

Muscle diseases weaken and/or waste muscles. The conditions can be inherited or acquired and can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. There are currently no cures.

Key facts and figures

Non-disabled people are twice as likely to have studied at higher education than disabled people.

Overall, 44% of all disabled people are economically active, compared with 79% of non-disabled people.

Of all people out of work, 40% have a disability or long-term health condition.

The numbers of disabled adults of working age living in relative poverty has grown over the last decade.

Over one third of all people in Britain without any formal qualifications are disabled.

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