Deaf schoolchildren Cole Rungien and Mason Ashton have won Panathlon awards for the positive attitude they’ve shown in the face of their disabilities.

Cole, who attends Middleton St. George Church of England Primary in Darlington, picked up the 2017/18 Teesside Outstanding Achievement Award (supported by Hays Travel) on Tuesday.

There is only one other hearing-impaired child in his primary school but competing in Panathlon competitions has allowed Cole to mix with other local deaf children, which has increased his confidence.

At our events, he saw children and parents communicating using sign language, which spurred him to go on a sign language course, develop his communication skills and form further friendships. He wants to attend more courses in the future.

Cole’s parents commented: “Cole is such an amazing boy. He is always trying his best and likes to give everything a go. Over the last few years his confidence has grown massively in and out of school.

“Winning this award will give him an added boost. He knows that his hearing loss will never stop him achieving what he wants to achieve. We couldn’t be prouder.”

Mason Ashton (right) of Firthmore Primary School picked up the Highly Commended award (supported by Hays Travel). “We are very proud of Mason,” said his parents. “Getting this award has boosted him; he was so proud and took the award and certificate into school.

“Going to the Panathlon events has given Mason the opportunity to communicate with others like himself. He knows having a hearing loss is not going to stop him doing anything he wants.”

Mina Kaur, teacher of the deaf at Low Incidence Needs Service (LINS) at nearby Hurworth Primary School, has worked with both boys.

She said: “Deaf identity and self-esteem are areas that we actively work on with our children and this is made possible by attending Panathlon events. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Panathlon Foundation for providing these opportunities over the year.

“We are immensely proud of Cole; his determination, enthusiasm and positive attitude are a credit to him. Watching Cole have the confidence to sign to HI pupils at the last event was heart-warming. Being awarded the Outstanding Achiever Award was a complete surprise to Cole. The huge smile on his face said it all!

“We are also very proud of Mason; his confidence and positive attitude have grown over the year. We feel that receiving this award will help boost his confidence further and help him to embrace his deaf identity.”

Panathlon would like to thanks Hays Travel for all their support in delivering competitions across the North East.

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