A disabled teenager from Leicester who was forced to leave his Kung Fu class for health and safety reasons has won an award after developing his own martial art for disabled people.
Seventeen-year-old Josh Diieso was told he could no longer learn the martial art at his local dojo because bosses didn't have the necessary insurance to cover people with disabilities.
Josh, who has cerebral palsy, then decided to develop a new form of fighting for people with disabilities, which he now wants to market in the US.
He said: "Based on Kung Fu, my technique is designed for people who don't have full use of their arms or legs.
"It has a gracious style, exercises muscles and enables disabled people to defend themselves."
Josh has also been learning the entrepreneurial skills he'll need to market the fighting style in America with Leicester-based charity Rathbone. He also hopes to work in finance and has been successfully studying for numeracy and literacy qualifications with the charity.
The charity, which trains unemployed teens, has been so impressed by his progress that they have awarded Josh a Midlands and South Achiever of the Year Award.
The awards, which will be presented on Friday by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Randall Brew, honour young people who have moved forward through learning.
Josh added: ""I have big ambitions to move to the US and work in stocks and shares, and Rathbone has made me believe I can achieve this."
Rebecca Tugby, Rathbone centre manager, said: "Josh is full of imaginative ideas but he has also stuck to the task of earning good qualifications while at Rathbone."
Joining Josh on the winner's podium at Birmingham Town Hall will be volunteer mentor, Danielle Smith. Now 19, Danielle, who is also from Leicester, was forced to curtail an apprenticeship in childcare because arthritis in her limbs made picking-up the children too painful.
Danielle has since been helping 16 to 18-year-olds at the Rathbone charity to overcome obstacles such as low self-esteem and bullying.
Walsall lad Paul Westbury will also be honoured. Despite learning difficulties, the 21-year-old holds down a job with the British Heart Foundation and volunteers for his church and in his local community.
As regional winners, Paul, Danielle and Josh will be entered into the UK Achiever of the Year Awards presented at the Houses of Parliament in June.
Jonathan Foot, Rathbone director for the Midlands and South, said: "Rathbone believes that every young person can achieve and that virtually any barrier to learning can be removed.
"Josh, Danielle, Paul and all of the 15,000 young people we helped last year are living proof of that."
Rathbone is a voluntary youth sector organisation providing opportunities for young people to transform their life-circumstances by re-engaging with learning, discovering their ability to succeed and achieving progression to further education, training and employment.
For more information visit www.rathboneuk.org or telephone 02476 550736.
Community Newswire,15th April 2009