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Anne Wafula Strike becomes Goodwill Ambassador

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Anne Wafula Strike
Great Britain's Anne Wafula Strike has been honoured following her appointment as the first Goodwill Ambassador for international development charity Action on Disability and Development (ADD).

 

It caps an eventful and successful year for the talented athlete, who was named as one of UK Athletics' World Class Development athletes in the recent lottery funding announcements.

Anne, who was born in Kenya and contracted polio aged two, said: "I'm more than privileged, it's an honour and I feel humbled.

 
"I didn't ever think something like this would happen to me," she added. "When you're asked to do something like this it does make you think your life must be on the right track."

Based in Somerset, ADD is a rights based charity working in 12 of the poorest countries in Africa and Asia.
 
In developing countries, disabled people, especially disabled women and children, are among the poorest, most disadvantaged and socially excluded, and are often forgotten by other organisations.
 
ADD supports organisations of disabled people to campaign for their equal rights in society and also works to influence other organisations of the rights and needs of disabled people to be included in all international development work.
 
Isaac Kute, ADD’s Chief Executive said “Anne is an inspiring role model to hundreds of thousands of disabled people as well as many other sports men and women.  She has surmounted incredible odds to get where she is in life and has achieved a lot as an athlete and Paralympian.”
 
He added: “Having Anne as ADD’s Goodwill Ambassador provides a great opportunity to highlight the successes disabled people can have. The role also gives her a great opportunity to be a spokesperson to promote disability as a human rights issue around the world.”
 
Anne has always been determined not to let her disability get in her way. She trained as a teacher in Kenya and worked there before moving to the UK in 2000 to be with her husband.

She took up wheelchair racing for fitness in 2002 and became Kenya's first wheelchair racer to compete at the Paralympic Games at Athens 2004, reaching the T53 400m final.

Anne became a British citizen in 2006 and made her GB debut at the 2006 Visa Paralympic World Cup. She also won three gold medals at the DSE Championships in Manchester and set several personal bests competing in Switzerland during the summer.

"I've tried so hard not to let my disability get in my way, I just get on with life. Just because I use a wheelchair it doesn't mean my life ends here," said the 37-year-old athlete.

"I try to lead a normal life, just like any other person," she added. "My life has been as full and as rich as anybody else's."

One of Anne's first tasks in her new role with ADD will be to campaign for nations to ratify the UN Convention on the " Rights and Dignity of Person's with Disabilities".  Agreed in August 2006 after five years of negotiations - the Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and has the potential to remove barriers currently faced by disabled people. Although the Convention does not create new rights, it prohibits discrimination against disabled people in all areas of life, including civil rights, access to justice and the right to education, health services and access to transportation.
 
Anne's new role with ADD means she can expect a busy few years ahead of her as she also bids to represent Great Britain at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

She is currently training 60 miles a week on the road, as well as training on the track twice a week and in the gym twice a week.

Anne was also a member of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing at the Assen 2006 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships.

Last month the Harlow athlete was awarded the Essex County Council Sports Personality of the Year Award at the annual Essex, Southend and Thurrock Sports Awards.

Visit the ADD website for further information on the work carried out.