The Kids Are Alright on ITV1

According to the television and newspaper headlines, Britain’s kids are out-of-control. This powerful one-off documentary goes behind the media hype to discover six inspirational stories – and explains why far from condemning our kids, we should be celebrating them.

The day-to-day life of service children is a far cry from a care-free childhood. At the start of this year, almost 5,000 children had a parent serving in Afghanistan. The film follows one of them, 11-year-old Daniel, who explains, with a maturity beyond his years, what life is like when your Dad’s away. “Will I see my dad again? That’s the main worry at school,” explains Daniel.

15-year old Sarah shares a similar maturity – she has grown up caring for her severely disabled mother. She is one of what is estimated to be as many as 700,000 Young Carers in the UK who are providing personal care to someone at home. She is always on call for her mother who has cerebral palsy. She puts her mum first, before her sporting aspirations and social life. Far from being bitter or resentful, Sarah wouldn’t change her position for the world. “I prefer having a mum that’s disabled, “explains Sarah. “Because of everything we’ve been through with her disability we’ve got a better relationship.”

Michael, 13, also shows remarkable courage. Michael has a rare condition called Dejerine-Sottas which causes severe muscle weakness and loss of sensation in his limbs, making it difficult to feel heat touch and pain, and means he is reliant on his wheelchair for mobility. Michael shows great determination and has set himself a goal – he wants to be a Paralympian. Michael started horse riding as therapy for his condition, but it has changed his life forever. “Riding has made a massive difference in my life. Without riding I wouldn’t be able to sit up, I’d barely be able to lift my neck,” says Michael. “My dream is to go to the Paralympics. That’s always been my dream and I really hope one day that I can fulfil it.”

The documentary also meets a young boy from Dagenham who bucks the trend of wanting to be a pop star or top footballer – he has his sights set on becoming a top ballet star; a young girl who came to the UK as a refugee from Eritrea, where she had never seen ice, and who has since discovered a passion for ice-skating; and the charity Dance United, which has designed a unique and innovative contemporary dance project that aims to turn young peoples’ lives around.

For the young people featured in this film, life has been a battle against their background, circumstance, disability and possibility of loss. These kids are not unique, they are like thousands of others where life is just a little bit more complicated than the constant barrage of bad press and dismissive headlines would have us all believe. So, perhaps the kids really are alright.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011, 10:35PM – 11:35PM ITV1

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