The eagerly awaited first rounds of the 2010 Essex Panathlon Challenge sports competition for disabled youngsters begin on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd April. The first event takes place at Braintree College on April 22nd and will feature teams from Harlow, Southview School, (Witham), Marketfield School (Tendring) and Lexden Springs School, (Colchester).

The second, on 23rd April, will see teams from Chelmsford Columbus College, Thurrock Beacon Hill, Glenwood School (Castle Point) and Oakview School in Loughton compete at the Chelmsford Riverside Sports Centre. The teams will compete across a range of sports – Boccia, Kurling, Polybat, Table Cricket and Athletics – to determine who will go through to the Essex Final on July 1st and become Essex Champions 2010.

The Panathlon Challenge is now in its tenth successful year of delivering sporting opportunities and “mini-paralympic” type competitions for young disabled sports people and around 125 athletes aged between 8 and 18, will compete against each other each day. The event goes ahead with the help of investment from the Jack Petchey Foundation, Lakeside shopping Centre who are supporting the Thurrock and Chelmsford teams and Essex County Council.

The Jack Petchey Foundation has donated £7,500 towards the Panathlon Challenge in Essex in 2010. The Foundation, based in Ilford, Essex was founded in 1999 and aims to help develop the potential within young people aged 11-25 right across London and Essex. The Foundation is eager to help youngsters to take advantage of opportunities and to play their part in society. So far, in excess of £60 million has been given to a wide range of organisations and schools. Trudy Kilcullen, Chief Operations Officer for the Jack Petchey Foundation said. “We are pleased to be supporting the Panathlon Challenge once again, which will benefit many young disabled people in Essex”.

The event forms part of Essex County Council’s prestigious ‘Essex Carrying the Flame Framework’ which was launched last summer. The framework will inspire a new generation of children and young people by providing them with the opportunity to engage in and represent their school and School Sport Partnership in Olympic and Paralympic related sport and cultural activities. It will also provide a wide range of volunteer and leadership opportunities which support the 2012 legacy.

Panathlon will invest around £30,000 in sports equipment, coaching sessions and multi-sports competitions in Essex during 2010, creating sporting opportunities for disabled youngsters in eight school sport partnership areas.

Danny Crates, Paralympic Champion and Panathlon charity patron says:
”I’ve witnessed some great Panathlon events in the last year and the performances by young disabled athletes has been inspiring. The new investment from Jack Petchey Foundation, Essex County Council and the other funders, will enable even more people to benefit from specialist sports equipment, thousands of hours of coaching sessions and some real competitive action. Many thanks from Panathlon to all our sponsors for enabling thousands of young disabled people to play and enjoy sport.”