Hartlepool, represented by Springwell School, won the first Panathlon Challenge North-East Finals today after a hard-fought competition involving over 30 disabled children.

They scored 54 points to be declared winners of the event at Eston Leisure Centre in Middlesbrough, which was staged by the charity as part of its drive to open up competitive sport to young disabled people.

Gateshead, represented by Cedars Academy (pictured below), came second on 50 points, with Durham (The Oaks School, pictured above) third on 40. (See full results table here.)

Lucas Wright, aged nine, of Springwell School, said: “I really enjoyed it and I love my medal. It’s a great colour. I can’t wait to show my mum!”

Scott Mallabar, PE Coordinator at Springwell School, said: “We love how inclusive this competition is. We can bring so many children of different abilities and they’ll all be equally active. It’s very well organised and relaxed, and the team leaders did a great job. It’s good to be the winners, too!”

Nineteen team leaders from Year 9 at Northfield School and Sports College in Stockton-on-Tees helped the youngsters compete in various sporting challenges with adaptive equipment to maximise participation. Events included boccia, new-age kurling, table cricket, field athletics and races.

Max Adam, 14, who assisted competitors in the kurling events, said: “It’s great to help put a smile on their faces. A little bit of effort goes a long way. I play football and, to these people, today has been like being in a cup final.  I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Ailsa Comley, Head of Girls’ PE at Northfield School, said: “Our volunteers are learning that there’s a lot more to sport than taking part. It’s also about communication and leadership, and being responsible for other people, as well as yourself. I’m delighted with the way they’ve thrown themselves into today’s event.”

Panathlon North East relayKeith Vincent, head of PE at Cedars Academy, said: “We’ve worked with Panathlon for many years and we’ve incorporated a lot of the competition events into out PE lessons. The big attraction of our competitions for these students is that they can socialise with their friends and meet new people. They also grow in confidence through competing.”

Michelle Wardle, a Higher Level Teaching Assistant from Durham Oaks School, winners of the Durham county competition, which took place for the first time this year, said the competition had opened up many opportunities for the youngsters involved.

“It’s nice for them to mix with kids from other schools and to learn different sports. We also get ideas for different sports to run in our clubs at school,” she said. “Most of all, they absolutely love taking part. They came into school today so excited, all kitted up and raring to go.”

Kyran Richmond, 12, from Durham Oaks, said: “I’ve never done new-age kurling before, but it was brilliant. I want to set up a lunch-time club so we can do this at school.”

Tony Waymouth, Panathlon Chief Operating Officer, said the North East final had been “an unqualified success”.

He added: “It’s great to have seen these northern counties come together. Durham took part for the first time this year and, as a result, they’ll go back and raise the standard there – in terms of both competition and provision.

“We look forward to further increasing the opportunities to participate in Panathlon challenges across the North.”

Photo gallery here, click first image –

Panathlon North East-26 Tees Valley Community Foundation  Tees Valley logo 2

Garfield Weston Logo  gateshead council