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Council gives voice to disabled youth

Children with disabilities are being invited to have their say in plans to improve their life at school. They are being asked to form a new city council committee in Leeds which is expected to have its own budget.

The committee of young people will advise on and help develop policy to meet the special needs of disabled children. It is believed to be the first council committee of its kind. "Most councils have committees to represent the needs of the disabled community, but to my knowledge, none of those take the very specific needs of disabled children and young people into account," said Brian Dale, chair of Leeds Council's disabled people's equality committee.

"There are hundreds of disabled youngsters in Leeds and I think it's time we gave them a voice. Rather than them coming to us for help and advice we are asking young people with disablities what they would like us to do for them.

"I feel this kind of political representation is long overdue and is a significant step forward for Leeds."

Mr Dale said he wanted the new committee to represent the needs of all disabled young people, including those whose disability is not obvious to the naked eye.

"To most people, the word disabled conjures up images of a wheelchair or white stick. However, disabilities can be much more subtle and I hope this committee will represent all young people with special needs, whether they have a physical disability, learning difficulties or need regular medical treatment such as kidney dialysis."

The new Leeds Disabled Young People's Advisory Committee is not restricted to schoolchildren - Mr Dale wants to hear from other young people who are interested.

was welcomed by the city's education chair, Sarah Perrigo, who said they wanted to provie the best possible standard of education for all children. This new move, whe said, would play a very valuable role in achieving that goal.

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