Richard was seven years old when he contracted polio. He started using a wheelchair and lost a lot of his independence. With his whole life suddenly changed, he was reliant on his family for everyday tasks. His confidence was really low.

“When I first got my disability, I thought I was the only one,” Richard explained to us this summer.

“When I went to school, I felt shy and lonely and useless… The other children would overlook me and I felt like there was something really wrong with me.”

Richard lives in Uganda where disabled children face daily discrimination that denies them a chance to learn, socialise and be a part of their communities. A staggering 91% never even go to primary school. And those who are lucky enough to have a chance at an education face stigma and bullying. They often drop out. 

Like many disabled children, Richard worried about his future. He went to school but, with little faith in himself, he felt that there was no hope of becoming independent.

Motivation’s All-Stars project will use sport and play to break the stigma around disability and ensure all children can be included.

When Richard was a teenager, his teacher could see something special in him. He was encouraged to join a sports team.

I initially told him no – I did not have the confidence. But he gave me some time to think and told me where to go if I changed my mind… Eventually I did! Joining the wheelchair basketball team has changed my whole life.

Our All-Stars project will ensure that even more disabled children have the opportunity to become independent, break out of poverty and build themselves a positive future - just like Richard.

Our sports clubs will give disabled children the confidence to play shoulder to shoulder with their non-disabled peers.

Our teacher training will help to create schools where differences are embraced and everyone has the chance to learn.

Our mentoring will teach disabled children about their rights and empower them to build positive futures.

Before long, Richard started playing competitively with his local wheelchair basketball team and learning how to race. He won his first ever trophy in a Motivation sports wheelchair! Since then, he has competed in Northern Uganda, Kampala – and even Germany.

Now he wants to try out for the National Uganda Wheelchair Basketball team.

Sport makes me feel good because I don't feel my disability. I feel good when I am training because I am only relying on myself. Maybe I will look for more skills in the future, but I never want to stop playing sports.

Sports have changed everything for me; I want to play sports for the rest of my life.

Richard's story shows what can happen when a disabled child is included in sport. When somebody believes in their potential and they're given a chance to shine, every child can be a champion.

Our All-Stars project launches this summer. It will help more disabled children to have a chance to work with sports coaches and transform their lives through sports and play, levelling the playing field for at least 270 disabled children in Uganda.

Donate today to support Motivation's work to empower disabled people around the world.

Photos © Matt Grayson

The All-Stars Appeal will be funded with UK Aid from the UK government.