Leeds United stars including Ben White and Barry Douglas mark International Disability Day

Leeds United first-team stars Ben White and Barry Douglas marked International Day of Disabled Persons during an extra special disability session being delivered to youngsters who have Down syndrome.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:00 am

The day is an annual event held to increase awareness, acceptance and understanding of people with a disability as well as celebrating their achievements and contributions.

The Leeds United Foundation work with disabled people every day throughout the city, delivering their own programmes and supporting other organisations with work being done to provide opportunities for those who live with a disability.

The club's official charity work with Leeds-based Sunshine and Smiles, a local football group for children with Down syndrome, on a regular basis to help run fun, engaging and motivational sessions that include games, competitions and physical activity.

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Ben White and Barry Douglas

The Leeds United duo spent time joining in various activities with the young children and their siblings during the visit, colouring in Leeds United kits, taking part in a penalty shoot out, having photos taken and handing out certificates to everyone in attendance.

Ben White spoke to LUTV during the appearance and said: "For us it's all about coming down and trying to just put smiles on the kids faces but we've also really enjoyed being here and it's put a smile on our faces too.

"It's so important to sometimes realise how lucky we are and seeing how much they appreciate the little things, like us just being here for an hour with them. It was inspiring to see how much fun they were having and them interacting with the coaches and their families."

Joanna Rowlands, Founder of Sunshine and Smiles and mum of 10-year-old Freddie who has Down syndrome, added: "Freddie always wanted to play football but couldn't quite keep up with the local children so we set up a little group five years ago for children with Down syndrome.

"The Leeds United Foundation have been brilliant for us, they do some fantastic holiday camps which is important for us as our kids don't get many opportunities during school holidays to join in mainstream camps. Sessions like these today are an absolute treasure to us, they just come along and enjoy different activities and get some exercise.

"A day like today with some of the players here means everything to them and us as parents, it's been beyond exciting for everyone involved."

For more information on the work being delivered by the disability team at the Leeds United Foundation, please contact [email protected]