A TEAM of disabled children from Chadsgrove School in Bromsgrove took pride in representing Worcestershire in an event considered as the ‘mini Paralympics’.
The 11-strong side won the Worcestershire Panathlon in February to qualify for the West Midlands regional final of the Panathlon Challenge at Nechells Community Sports Centre in Birmingham.
A determined performance saw them pick up bronze medals in the new age kurling and polybat – Panathlon sports played with adaptive equipment to make them accessible to more people – and the relay races.
But they could not keep pace with two strong Birmingham teams and were pipped to third place by Warwickshire by just two points.
Carina Taylor, head of PE at Chadsgrove School, said: “It’s been much more challenging today. The level has been raised, but they are giving their best to the competition.
“They are really enjoying themselves and it’s great that they are working as a team, but also working with other schools, which we don’t get much opportunity to do.”
Grace Kempson, aged 15, who played table cricket and did the wheelchair slalom, said: “I enjoy coming out to Panathlon. I like the atmosphere of it all. It’s very loud – you can’t hear yourself think. There’s a lot of responsibility to be representing Worcestershire, but it feels good.”
Panathlon provides sporting opportunities for more than 7,500 disabled young people each year across London and 27 counties nationwide.
More than 450 schools took part in Panathlon’s 115 ‘mini Paralympic’ competitions in 2014/15, with more than 50,000 active hours of sport provided to disabled children.
Mrs Taylor added: “The best thing about Panathlon is that it caters for children with a wide range of severe learning difficulties and severe mobility issues.
“We’ve got children who are in powerchairs, who don’t have access to many other events, but here they’ve got a chance to compete on an even level with other children from the area.
“It’s really important that all kids, no matter what their ability level, have the opportunity to compete against other children of similar ability on a fair level.
“Every child has a right to take part in sporting activity and enter competitions.”