Students from Mowbray School were delighted to be crowned gold medallists of the inaugural Panathlon Xtend event, hosted at Richmond School and Sixth Form College. Four teams, from The Dales School and Mowbray School, took part in this new mini-paralympics-style competition which is designed for Key Stage 3 children, bridging the gap between the Primary and older Secondary children’s events.
The Key Stage 3 age group has been identified as an important time for children with special needs in sport, allowing them to take part and gain an appreciation of the activities that are offered in the Panathlon programmes. At primary age, children are very keen to be involved in sport, however research shows that their interest and participation decreases as they reach secondary school. The Panathlon Xtend is aimed to invigorate their enthusiasm and passion for the sporting opportunities that are available.
Val French, Lead for Panathlon in the North Yorkshire Inclusive Sports Partnership, said: “It has been really rewarding to see how the students have enjoyed this event, they have tried really hard and engaged with each other and also with the Sports Leaders who supported them. Once again, I am indebted to the Year 12 Sports Leaders who were fundamental to the smooth running and success of the day.”
The students competed in a wide range of sports, including table tennis, kurling, boccia and dodge ball creating a very positive atmosphere that fostered a great team spirit for each group taking part. The students’ behaviour was wonderful, and they were patient as they moved on and waited for the next event to start. This can be very hard for students with special educational needs but as they were so engaged in the activities they were happy and enjoyed watching other groups.
The inclusive sporting activities have been hosted at Richmond School for five years, and are generously sponsored by Panathlon and LNER, without whom the events could not run. Lynsey Carruthers, School Games Organiser and PE Teacher, said: “It is always an honour for us to stage Panathlon events and we never have a shortage of Sports Leaders to volunteer. It is a great experience for them to lead the various activities and to help the students, demonstrating what they need to do and giving support and assurance when required.”
Panathlon events instil a sense of pride in the students taking part and gives them an opportunity to travel somewhere new and experience competitive sports in a friendly and welcoming environment. They are equally valuable to the Sports Leaders as they can develop their leadership and communication skills. They also gain confidence in how to guide less-able students which requires additional patience in coping with behavioural and coordination issues they may not have experienced before.