Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards: Young campaigner who fought for his rights back awards search

An inspirational teenager who founded a website to help wheelchair users get around Yorkshire's biggest city more easily has urged people to nominate youngsters for the recognition they deserve.

Sunday, 14th August 2016, 12:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:17 pm
Nathan Popple is supporting the search for nominees for the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards. Picture Tony Johnson

Nathan Popple, 18, is a previous winner at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards. In 2012 aged just 14, he founded Accessible Leeds, a website which rates the city’s shops, leisure activities and public transport for the ease of which disabled people can access them.

He is supporting the search for nominees in this year’s awards, which are backed by Yorkshire Post Newspapers, as he believes recognising youngsters who fight for their rights is important as it is such a challenging thing for them to do.

Wheelchair-user Mr Popple, who is from Adel in Leeds, suffered catastrophic injuries at birth and has cerebral palsy. He was inspired to start Accessible Leeds after a trip to go bowling with friends was curbed when steps stopped him from reaching the alley.

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In the years since starting the site Mr Popple, who speaks and types through a computer operated by a foot pedal on his chair, has reviewed dozens of venues, and has shown determination in his bid to raise awareness of the difficulties wheelchair users face.

But while his campaigning has forced change at many sites, he, and other wheelchair users like him still face daily challenges.

“Some people go out of their way to make reasonable adjustments because it is important to them and some people do it either because the law says so, or because they are scared of looking bad,” Mr Popple said.

“When I started, Leeds City Council had a ‘one wheelchair, one carer’ policy at accessible platforms at their events such as Party in the Park and football screenings at Millennium Square, and with the help of my MP Greg Mulholland, I changed this.

“Many of the people and business owners in Leeds who I have met have been very supportive, though some things just need a bit more thought.

“For example, I went to Leeds Pride last Sunday and the parade route went down a really old street that was cobbly and badly paved and awful for wheelchair users. Things like this don’t need to happen and can be prevented with a bit of thought by organisers so that events can be inclusive for all.”

It was in 2014 that Mr Popple was given a special recognition award at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards for his work. The awards ceremony remains a night he will “never forget”.

Mr Popple said: “I was really proud just to be nominated, never mind win. I feel very lucky to have people in my life who help and encourage me to go out there and be the best I can.

“It is important that the awards recognise the efforts, courage, and bravery of children because while it is hard for anyone to speak up and fight for their rights, it is much harder for children to do that as they have to fight so much harder to be heard. Anyone who fights injustice is very brave.”

How to nominate

There is less than a week to go to nominate a deserving youngster for a Yorkshire Children of Courage Award.

The event honours children who deserve recognition for their courage in a number of ways, and categories include young carer, fundraiser, outstanding bravery, sporting achievement and special recognition. They combine honouring courageous young people with raising money for the grant-giving St James’s Place Foundation.

To nominate a child, visit www.yorkshirechildren.co.uk before midnight on Friday August 19.