The Upbeats Walk, sponsored by DNEL Events, is taking place this Saturday with 185 Charlton fans signed up to take part in the nine-mile walk from Charlton Athletic’s Training Ground in New Eltham to The Valley.
Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT) Upbeats programme for young people and adults with Down’s syndrome has been running for 14 years. The programme is entirely funded by voluntary donations.
CACT recently published a report evaluating the success of the Upbeats programme. The report saw the Upbeats themselves and various parents reflect on its impact.
Victoria Goldstone, whose son Perry has been part of the Upbeats since its launch in 2008, said: “What CACT provide to all of us has far exceeded anything you could imagine of a football team. We would never have this feeling, atmosphere, and family-feel elsewhere.”
Marilyn Peciuch, whose son Joe has been a Charlton Upbeat for seven years, said: “Joe used to be supported by staff but has gained the confidence, understanding, and independence to travel on his own and that’s something we all hoped for. The Upbeats have been amazing in helping him achieve that.”
The report found that after attending the Upbeats sessions:
• 100% of participants have improved their social skills, made new friends and improved their emotional wellbeing
• 96% of Upbeat parents believe their relationship with their son/daughter has improved and strengthened
• For every £1 spent on the Upbeats programme, there is a social value of £11.70 added which is a fantastic net benefit of £270,923.
Charlton legends Bob Bolder, Paul Mortimer and Kim Dixson will be joining walkers on the nine-mile route from the Club’s Training Ground in New Eltham to The Valley.
Yann Kermorgant will be joining Charlton TV on the day and is hoping to greet the walkers at the finish line.
Speaking about why he has chosen to get involved in the Upbeats Walk, Bob said:
“It’s nice to get together with a group of fans and the Upbeats themselves once again. The fundraising is important to keep the programme going for all participants and their families.
“We’ve missed it a bit, it feels like it’s been such a long time to get together as a group for such a special programme. There’s always a lot of joy for people on this particular walk.”
Just over halfway, the walkers will take a short break at Charlton Lido and Lifestyle Club, where they will be provided with refreshments courtesy of iPro Hydrate.
Charlton Athletic’s PFA Disability Ambassador Jason Pearce has supported the Upbeats many times throughout his time with the club.
Interviewed as part of the evaluation report, he said:
"The work done in the community by CACT for people with a disability is brilliant, so I am always happy to support fantastic programmes like the Charlton Upbeats."
The walk is the annual fundraiser of the year which helps CACT to continue supporting the Upbeats and their families.
The Upbeats programme would not be able to continue running without the support of Charlton Athletic fans it has received over many years.
Click here to donate to the Upbeats and help the programme continue.