March 2nd, 2015
Powell’s School in Cirencester were crowned South Cotswolds Primary Panathlon champions as 94 disabled children from nine Gloucestershire primary schools competed at Cirencester Kingshill School on Friday (27 February).
The event was the second in a series of three competitions to be held in Gloucestershire between February and April, which will provide an introduction to Panathlon for over 180 primary school children.
“It’s been a great experience for them all,” said Josie Harrison, Head of PE at Powell’s School. “You can see from the smiles on their faces, they are over the moon. Going back to school now with a gold medal around their necks, they will be beyond excited.
“There are children here that wouldn’t necessarily go to these events normally, so it’s a really good experience for them. It gives them the confidence to go and try something they wouldn’t normally do and in a different environment, so it’s great for them.”
More than 20 schools will compete in the series of events, which form part of the Gloucestershire School Games (Level 2), following successful pilot events last year.
“Panathlon is great,” said Shirley Bond, teacher and PE coordinator at, Stratton C Of E Primary School. “There’s a room full of other children with different abilities and disabilities, all having a go.
“We bought 10 children last year for the first time. They were so excited about coming – they were often children that didn’t normally take part in sporting events and they came away saying it was the best thing they had done.
“One of our children, Riley, said he’d really enjoyed it and that it was the first time he’d ever won anything in sport. He didn’t want to take part in sporting events before; he was nervous about it, however hard we coaxed him.
“The knock-on effect of coming to Panathlon was he’s now actually been keen to try other sports, whereas before he’d down tools and say he couldn’t do it.
“It even encouraged him to join our water sport club. He’s terrified of water normally, but he said ‘if I can do this, I can have a go!’
That pupil, 10 year-old Riley Reeves (pictured above right) was having a great time at this year’s event.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself today,” said the Year 6 student, “particularly the Messi Skills. It was great to get in there and score a couple of goals! I came here last year and won a bronze medal, which was really exciting because I’d never won one before.”
Team mate Henry Floyd (pictured at top of article), aged 9, echoed Riley’s sentiments, saying: “It’s been a really good day. I especially liked the football. It makes me feel happy that I got picked to play for the school.”
The Primary Panathlon programme was launched in 2013 to build foundation skills in a range of Panathlon sports, using a series of fun team challenges. The programme creates a sporting pathway for disabled young people aged five to 11, many of whom would otherwise not have access to any competitive sport.
Watermoor C of E Primary School were one of the teams competing in Cirencester. Having brought along just a single pupil in 2014, the school decided to bring a whole team down to take part this year.
Jo Pople, teaching assistant at Watermoor, said: “Last year it was just Ryan and I who came along. Ryan doesn’t play in any school teams, but with the way Panathlon is structured, with fun, different activities, he’s really enjoyed it.
“When Ryan got back to school with a medal, he was just hero worshipped. It was so lovely and it was just brilliant for his self-esteem. Our sports coordinator, Mr Yiend, saw the impact it had on Ryan and decided that this year we needed to enter a team from the school.”
11-year-old Ryan Gardner (pictured left), who was made team captain for this year’s event, was clearly thrilled to be back at Panathlon.
“It’s been really, really good,” said the Year 6 student. “Last year I went back to my school and showed everyone my medal, and all the people in school were cheering. It made me feel impressive!”
The South Cotswolds Primary Panathlon also marked the launch of a partnership extension with the St. James’s Place Foundation, who will continue to support Panathlon until 2017, donating a further £255,000 to provide sporting opportunities to disabled young people in this time.
“It’s been an absolutely fantastic day,” said Mark Longbottom, Head of the St. James’s Place Foundation.
“It’s great to see children taking part, feeding off their team mates, finding themselves in situations when they are under a little bit of pressure and responding brilliantly, with little achievements throughout the day. Their faces light up and it looks to do wonders for their self-esteem. That’s the key really.
A Primary Panathlon (Level 2) was held in Chipping Camden in February, while another is scheduled for Gloucester in April. Selected teams will then take part in a Gloucestershire Panathlon Final (Level 3) on 12 June and a West Counties Panathlon in Swindon on 30 June.