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Mowbray’s Magnificent Seven Score Gold in Panathlon Challenge

ByJill Lundberg

Oct 16, 2018

An inclusive sporting challenge, for young primary students with special needs in Hambleton and Richmondshire was deemed to be ‘the best day of my life’ for one attendee. Hosted at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, with the support of young student sports leaders, the Panathlon Challenge is a national event which offers sporting opportunities for over 17,500 young people with special needs each year.

Thirty primary students, made up five teams from Bainbridge Askrigg and West Burton Federation (BAWB), Mowbray, South Kilvington, and The Dales School, quickly embraced a true sporting spirit as they took part in a wide range of activities, including boccia blast, parachute popcorn table cricket and many more adapted activities.  The competition was very close but it was Mowbray School who were crowned the winners of the event. They will go forward to compete in the County Finals, and if successful go on to the Yorkshire and National events.

This event was run by Val French and Maureen Breen for the North Yorkshire Inclusive Sports Partnership. They were supported by Richmond Sixth Form Year 12 and 13 young leaders who were fabulous age-appropriate role models for the competitors who could relate to them and were very much at ease in their company.

Comments Val French, North Yorkshire Lead for Panathlon in the North Yorkshire Inclusive Sports Partnership:                           “Panathlon gives young people with special needs not only the opportunity to participate but to also compete in activities appropriate to their needs These events could not be run without the young sports leaders and it is great to see them gain in confidence as they are taken out of their comfort zone. They all coped really well with that. This is the first year mainstream schools have joined to make it a more inclusive event.”

Deemed the ‘mini-paralympics’ by the Panathlon Foundation, the charity behind this wonderful brainchild, the event encourages an appropriate element of competition and socialisation. It offers young people with Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) the opportunity to try activities that may not available in their school and experience the larger space and facilities offered by their hosts.

Mary Stones, Year 12, was one of 17 Sixth Form young leaders assisting at the event. Mary said: “The Primary Panathlon sports event was something to remember. It was a fantastic event to lead, with children of all different abilities attending – it was great to see amazing work ethic from all of them. One little boy said to me “This is the best day of my life”, and that really means a lot, because this event is something that needs to occur more often to allow these children to gain new experiences. It really encouraged me to focus and concentrate on the children and as a result of that, it has boosted my confidence of working with younger children. Looking towards the future, this event has really pushed me to go into a career as a sports leader.”

Richmond School and Sixth Form College’s Head of Community Sport Tony Potter concluded: “The Primary Panathlon is one of the most challenging and also rewarding of the numerous events that our student leaders help to run and I am delighted every year to see how much both the participants themselves and also our own students gain from this event in terms of confidence and self-belief. These are skills and experiences that really do make a difference to our students in the wider world beyond school.”

To find out more about the Panathlon Foundation please visit www.panathlon.com.  For further information about Richmond School and Sixth Form College please visit www.richmondschool.net