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A lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to represent their county even in a mainstream school, let alone a special school. For some of these kids, this could be the peak of where they get to in sport, so what a great event. They are overwhelmed and think it’s absolutely incredible. That’s what it’s all about.

Kevin Hughes, Assistant Head of PE at Arbour Vale School, Slough

“Panathlon gives my pupils with severe learning difficulties a sense of belonging. It’s such an amazing opportunity, it gives them an immense sense of achievement. They get huge attention and praise from their peers back at school for it and it inspires the younger ones to join in when they’re a bit older. When they compete at school in sport it’s more fun-based and against their own peers but when they go out of school to places like this they learn about what it means to be competitive. The kids really respond to that. It’s been a long trip but it’s been so worth it.”

John Rice, PE co-ordinator at Merefield School

This is the first time the school has competed externally, what an experience for them to come here with children from other parts of the region.

Roseanne Hutchinson, Delamere, Trafford

You just can’t buy this: the competition, the interaction, the fulfilment the children get from it and, of course, their smiles!

St. James’s Place volunteer Jon Ellis

“This is an experience that they don’t usually get at all. It’s great for them to be somewhere where they know Olympic and Paralympic athletes have competed and it gives them a huge sense of achievement.”

Leanne Judd, SEN class teacher, Eastfield School

Our strong team culture has impacted into school – behaviour has improved, relationships developed, a sense of achieving can be found in all areas of the school.

Lucas Neocleous, football coach, Haringey

“Panathlon is having a massive effect on all the competing schools because the standard is getting higher, schools are putting more resources into training and kids are getting so motivated.”

Neil Godbold, The Ashley School

Panathlon is brilliant. I’ve been coming here since the age of nine and enjoy it every year. I take part in the wheelchair slalom and the relay races. I love racing against others.

Jo Makumbi, aged 15, West Lea School, Enfield

I am pleased with how today has gone. I felt I had done well and it was great to be cheered on by all the other teams as well as my own team-mates. It was a really nice atmosphere and a great day to be part of.

Brandon Morris, aged 17, South Ockendon, Essex

I’ve really enjoyed Panathlon. It’s really helped me to be more confident and to get more involved in sport. A few years ago I couldn’t have imagined myself here.

Toyin Fabusiwa, aged 16, Croydon

I really enjoy it. Win or lose, it’s all about taking part. I feel very proud to be representing my school.

Ali Hussain, aged 15, Hammersmith & Fulham

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.

Carina Taylor, Head of PE at Chadsgrove School, Bromsgrove

This is one of the best experiences of my life. My favourite is the table top cricket because you get to really smash the ball. Panathlon has lifted my confidence and skills.

James Cole, aged 17, Barking and Dagenham

We’ve been to a few events in the past and she is usually the only student in a powerchair, so to come here today where she can compete against other students on a fair playing field is fantastic.

Caroline Rose, mother of Ella, a Year Four student from Barnet

We’ve started local events to get as many children competing as possible. We then use those as a selection process for Panathlon, so we’re giving children a stepping stone to representing the borough. It gives them something to strive to and gives an end product to their competitions locally.

Joe Playle, Sport Development Officer, Havering Council

This is real ace, I can’t believe we won, today I love my life.

Aaron Daniel Davis, Bradford

“The competitive element is really, really important for me, I’ve never been here before and at first I was quite daunted and felt nervous but when you’re in the water you just feel free.”

Jack Woolston, 14, Ashley School

Panathlon is proving so popular that even able-bodied children are wanting to get involved now!

Lorraine Veck, Disability Sports Co-ordinator at Coteford Junior School, Hillingdon

For schools to come together like this is great, you don’t get that luxury very often. Social skills are some of the most important things we try and teach them at our school so to see them interact, celebrate when they win and shake hands at the end is spot on

Liam Welch, teacher at Billing Brook School, Northampton

What a fantastic event. The atmosphere throughout was one of encouragement and support. All the young people swam incredibly well and loved competing in this type of environment.

Stuart Johnson, The Park School of Blackpool, Team Manager

The structure was brilliant. The format was for the kids. Usually we are tagged on to some event. Thus we don’t compete that often. This was the opposite. It was for the children and the children responded brilliantly having an event for them.

Lee Puckrin, teacher at Priory Woods School, Middlesbrough

It feels amazing to be representing the borough. It’s an amazing experience to even be here. We’re so lucky to get this opportunity I think. I really enjoy being part of Panathlon and I think I’d like to be a young Panathlon coach in the future.

Toyin Fabusiwa, aged 15, Croydon

Panathlon is something I look forward to every year. It’s given these kids so much encouragement. For a lot of the kids it’s the only competition they are doing.

Marianne Sharpe, teacher at Samuel Rhodes School, Islington

“We had no air conditioning in our minibus and we stayed in a hostel last night and for some reason the heating was on full-blast – but it’s all been worth it! It means so much to them. They’ve worked really, really hard. It’s a great opportunity for them to show what they can do and they won’t get opportunities like this back at home. They are all in awe of this venue! It really  boosts their self-esteem and once they build up their confidence here it gives them that boost to join their local pool or club. Just because they’ve got disabilities it doesn’t mean they can’t spread their wings and do other things. This will give the confidence to do so.”

Sam Thompson, The Forest School