Flamingo Chicks’ Founder awarded MBE for services to disabled children and their families

Katie Sparkes, Founder and CEO of Flamingo Chicks has been made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Frustrated at the lack of inclusive opportunities for disabled children, Katie founded Flamingo Chicks in December 2013.  The charity gives disabled and ill children, such as those with cancer, the opportunity to enjoy dance, explore movement and forge friendships. It also provides a vital support network for parents and carers, a unique intergenerational volunteer programme tackling social isolation and global outreach – operating in eight other countries.

From humble beginnings as a small community group, it’s now a national force having seen 20,000 children through its doors since it began eight years ago.  Fulfilling its aim of breaking down barriers, the charity has put the spotlight on inclusion at a host of high profile locations including Downing Street, the House of Commons and seven Flamingo Chicks even went out to speak at the United Nations in New York.

None of this would be possible without Katie. She is known for her ability to make the impossible possible and has campaigned tirelessly for a fair future for disabled children.

In addition to Flamingo Chicks, Katie founded two other projects helping disabled children and their families; starting the charity Styleability, providing accessible fashion (now part of Props) and the Sensory Science programme at STEM charity, Lightyear Foundation. With a passion to address social issues, she has also dedicated her life to delivering hundreds of other community-led projects which have both a practical and long lasting impact.  Examples include a maternal health programmes where she was based in the favelas of Rio, Brazil, ‘Bra Bank’ – helping women in developing countries start their own businesses with re-gifted bras, ‘Build A School in a month’ where Katie harnessed the power of social media to fund a new school build in Kenya in just 30 days and ‘Suit Amnesty’ – re-gifting suits to homeless and disadvantaged job seekers.

“This incredible honour means so much; I feel very fortunate that so many people have believed in my work, supporting and empowering me with relentless enthusiasm – making amazing things possible! I will continue to be driven by the vision of a fair future for disabled children and passion for breaking down barriers to inclusion.”

“The growth of Flamingo Chicks has been phenomenal and I’m very grateful to everyone who’s supported us to turn the seed of an idea into the magical, impactful charity it is today. We have seen 20,000 children dance with us since we began, meaning disabled children across the UK are being given the chance to explore movement, have fun and forge friendships. I am very grateful to be recognised in the New Year Honours list and delighted that the work of Flamingo Chicks has been acknowledged. I know our Flamingo Chicks will be so excited to hear the news.” – Katherine Sparkes MBE.

“Katie’s trademark is her magic and sparkle – and her ability to make things happen. We are extremely proud of the work she has done and continues to do, to ensure that the rights of disabled children and their families are given the prominence they deserve. From advocacy at the United Nations, to fighting for flexibility at work for dads of disabled children, Katie’s passion to achieve equality for all is enviable. She inspires others to take action and to create a better world; her passion and commitment is contagious. She is truly deserving of this honour.” – Claire Bridges, Flamingo Chicks Chair of Trustees

Previous awards Katie has won include: JCI Outstanding Young Person of The World Award, a Point of Light from the Prime Minister and the Independent’s Happy list of people who make world a better place.

For further information or images, please contact [email protected]


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