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Inclusion and Diversity

I love using Open Minds to profile remarkable people whose achievements can’t help but enthrall us all. Often they’re people with backgrounds or characteristics that mean they’re wrongly overlooked, or certainly not nurtured to their full potential.

Not so, the incredible 9-year old twins, Peter and Paula Imafidon, who are the youngest children in the highest-achieving family in the history of Great Britain’s education system. They made history as the youngest students ever to enter high school and astounded veteran experts of academia when they became the youngest ever to pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics exam.

With a set of older super-gifted siblings in the Imafidon family too, it’s not surprising they’ve been asked if they share a ‘genius gene’. “Not so”, came the reply of Chris Imafidon, the children’s father. He credits his children’s success to the UK’s Excellence in Education program for disadvantaged inner city children.

“Every child is a genius,” he told British Reporters. “Once you identify the talent of a child and put them in an environment that will nurture that talent, then the sky is the limit,”

How refreshing to hear such a positive story about inner-city children, in the UK, when mainly the reporting of these environments and the young people in them is so negative. If only more of us could emulate the tremendous attitude of Chris Imafidon and seek out the particular talents in everyone we encounter, providing encouragement and support to help them become the best they can be.

Being super-high achievers, twins, aged 9, oh, and by the way, black, Peter and Paula Imafidon are bound to attract attention but frustratingly quite the reverse might happen too. Their stand-out characteristics on a number of fronts may mean they suffer a level of separateness or exclusion because people feel intimated, challenging and perhaps dismissive of who they are.

It’s reassuring to hear their father be so confident about his youngest children’s ability to adapt to secondary school, despite their tender age. Having supported his older children through the process he is aware of the pitfalls and besides, “because they are twins they are always able to help and support each other.”

Well, we may not all have the support of a twin, but we can certainly help each other achieve our personal and professional goals, looking beyond exterior characteristics to spot the particular talents we all hold.

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