Merry Christmas to you all!

Our Christmas story is about what happened when Kit met Chris.

Kit is a school kid in North Yorkshire at the Richard Taylor CofE Primary School. He is space-mad; he talks about space, dreams about space and if you look at his bedroom, it’s pretty obvious that he lives space. Col. Chris Hadfield is an Astronaut, famous as the Canadian who sang Space Oddity aboard the International Space Station, he is very generous with his time when it comes to STEM learning.

Chris kindly agreed to do a Skype call into one of the Space Camps that the Stephen Hawking Foundation fund in the UK, so late this year he found himself on a call to 250 school children from seven state schools in the North of England. We think that’s the most Chris has had on a call, so we are happy to take him to new horizons.

One of the children who got to ask a question was Kit van Berckel. His mother Jo says “Kit has severe Cerebral Palsy from a birth injury, he needs help with all aspects of life. Kit uses a talker to speak, just as Professor Hawking did and despite this, Kit leads a full and exciting life”. Kit plays football, joins in with all lessons, is an active part of the cosmology / space club and is clearly going to be studying more about space.

Kit asked his questions but did more. He sent Lucy Hawking, our Chair a video message and pictures that show his love for space. Lucy chose one of the pictures to feature in the Stephen Hawking Foundation Christmas Card; we asked Kit what it felt like to talk to Chris Hadfield and take part in a space camp. He said:

“I am trying to understand the world I live on. Sensational!”

And with that, Kit’s story has now travelled to Presidents and Nobel Prize-winning Scientists, Kings and Queens and even to the desk of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Our approach to STEM / STEAM education is that all children, regardless of ability or disability, background or privilege, should have equal access to science education. We know many leaders have heard Kit’s story and we look forward to working with them to ensure that gender, ability and background will never be a barrier to education and achievement.

During the Space Camp, the children asked some amazing questions and Chris answered them all and took the time to address the children individually. Needless to say, they were so excited. That’s what space camps are about, the excitement of science and space, filling small minds with questions, growing knowledge through education and interaction and fun, space camps are fun!

Imagine a couple of years of primary school kids bringing sleeping bags into school, projecting stars onto the ceiling, learning about our solar system, our galaxy, space flight and the potential for humanity to move across space. They might get a visit from an astronaut, watch the launch of a space rocket or see a live feed from the ISS. These kids are seeing their future presented to them as accessible, real and live.

Kit’s mum Jo says that Kit “is a shining example of how to live with disability and overcome adversity. After all, a body with more function is not better than a body with less function. Bodies are of equal value and worth. We need to keep educating the world”. Thanks Jo, we think that message is one the world needs to hear right now.

We wish you all a very blessed, merry and loving Christmas.

Keep looking up at the stars!

The schools involved in this Space Camp were:

Richard Taylor CofE Primary School
Grove Primary School
Cowling Community Primary School
Skipton Parish Church Primary School
Bilton Grange Primary School
St Joseph’s Primary School, Penshurst
St. Aidan’s Secondary School

We would like to thank Col Hadfield, Space Camps UK and all of the schools for making such an amazing event happen.

Find out more about https://stephenhawkingfoundation.org/space-camps/ in our next post and on our web site.