FOR almost a decade, a group of Darlington youngsters have been working tirelessly to make a real difference in their community.

Often operating under the radar, these young leaders have made a host of changes to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

From helping to ensure that playgrounds are fully accessible to calling on politicians and inspecting buildings across the town, the dedicated volunteers regularly use their position to encourage equality for disabled people.

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Darlington Association on Disability’s Young Leaders scheme was established in 2009 and have met hundreds of times since then to debate issues and push for change.

The group, which meets fortnightly at the Independent Living Hub on West Crescent, is now appealing for new people to join the scheme.

The Young Leaders project is suitable for those aged between ten and 25-years-old, with those joining invited to engage with and enhance the on-going work of Darlington Association on Disability.

The charity’s chief executive, Lauren Robinson, said: “We’re growing our own young leaders here and we are always looking for new members to come along and want to encourage more people to get involved.

“The reason Young Leaders was created was to get more young people engaged with issues around disability and to give them some expertise and skills.

“We’re hoping to get people who understand the issues and want to make a difference – they will get to meet up with others and discuss what is affecting disabled people at the time and decide what they would like to tackle.”

Recently, the Young Leaders have been discussing matters around online safety, with some members undergoing training as they work to raise awareness of how to keep young people safe on the internet. The group also made a video to promote the importance of the issue.

In its early years, Young Leaders was funded by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and was established to allow young people to influence decision making at DAD, to improve accessibility of services, widen and change public attitudes and to develop leadership skills in members.

A statement from DAD says the group provides a voice and a place for young disabled people to express their views, adding: “It is also the only organisation of its kind within Darlington, and as such it plays a fairly prominent role within the community. Without it young disabled people would be completely without representation.”

Anyone interested in joining can call 01325 489999.