The Panathlon Challenge charity celebrated one year to go to the Paralympic Games, with local Essex gold medal winning Paralympians and local school children at London Stansted Airport today (23rd September).
Dan Bentley and Danny Crates, both Paralympic Gold Medalists from Essex, played local disabled children from Southview School, in the Paralympic Sport of Boccia at the Airport terminal.
The Panathlon Challenge is now in its twelfth successful year of delivering sporting opportunities and “mini-paralympic” type competitions for young disabled people. This year over 2,500 participants have benefitted from Panathlon coaching, equipment provision and competitions.
Danny Crates is the sporting patron of the Panathlon charity and said , “ Panathlon Challenge is a fantastic competition for young disabled people, and I’ve witnessed the enthusiasm and skills of the competitors first-hand. It is going to be a great twelve months of inspiring sporting action with the London 2012 Games coming. It’s great to see local disabled children competing in their own type of “Paralympic Games” through the Panathlon Challenge.”
Nick Barton , London Stansted’s managing director, added: “London Stansted is delighted to be able support the Panathlon Challenge and showcase the sport of Boccia at the airport. The event will give our passengers and staff the perfect opportunity to interact with the athletes and children from Essex’s Southview School, learn about the sport and see for themselves why this is such a wonderful event.”
Euro MP Richard Howitt who is President of the European Parliament All Party Disability Group, attended and took part in a few games of Boccia. He said: “As a disability campaigner I am passionate about giving disabled youngsters a sporting chance. I am delighted to support this event and talk to local disabled children who despite the hurdles they face are ready to dive in and have a go at a new sport.”
Panathlon has already been granted the Inspire Mark , the official badge of the London 2012 Inspire Programme for its ground breaking work in developing football opportunities for visually impaired young people and Powerchair users, with the Wheelchair Football Association.
Panathlon aims to raise £400,000 in the year ahead to fund its work, providing severely disabled young people with adapted sports equipment and 50 sports events around the country.
· Panathlon Challenge has been delivering competitive opportunities for young disabled people since 1999. It has invested over £1m during that time in sports equipment, coaching funds and multi-sports competitions in Essex, Kent, London, Liverpool, Wiltshire and other areas. In 2012 it will benefit over 2,500 disabled young people across the country.
· Southview School in Witham compete have competed in Panathlon for 3 years and will be bringing their Boccia Team to take on the local Paralympic Gold Medalist.
· Danny Crates has been the Panathlon Sporting Patron for three years. Danny Won gold in Athens in 2004 Paralympics at 800m and carried the GB team flag at the Opening Ceremony in Beijing in 2008.
· Dan Bentley won a team Gold in Boccia in Beijing in 2008 and will hopefully be defending his title in London 2012
· The Mayor of London Boris Johnson, through the Sports Legacy Plan, is supporting Panathlon with £255,000 investment in the three years before the Olympics and Paralympic Games. He said: ” It is fantastic to see the Panathlon Challenge going from strength to strength every year, helping to inspire young people to get involved in sport. Grass roots competitions such as this are crucial if we are to achieve our goal of building a lasting sporting legacy in the capital from the 2012 Games. My Sports Legacy Fund was established to support exactly this kind of event.”
· Giles Long MBE (and triple Gold medal winning Paralympian) is the Chair of the Panathlon Charity. He said, “ Panathlon Challenge is a fantastic competition for young disabled people, and I’ve witnessed the enthusiasm and skills of the competitors first-hand. It is going to be a fantastic twelve months of inspiring sporting action with the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to London. I look forward to helping Panathlon develop over the coming year .
· Panathlon Challenge involves the sports of Football, Athletics, Polybat, Table Cricket, Boccia and Kurling and involves disabled children (severe Learning difficulties, physical impairments, deaf and visually impaired) aged between 5 and 19. www.panathlon.com
· Panathlon is supported financially by the Mayor of London, Jack Petchey Foundation, Hilton Foundation, St. James’s Place Foundation and various other trusts and charities.
· Panathlon’s key commercial partner is Woodland Group – http://www.woodland-group.com/site/home
Enquiries to – Ashley Iceton, Panathlon Challenge, 01279 680980 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Stansted Airport Press Office, 01279 680534 or email@example.com