As the spring term draws to a close, Panathlon is very pleased to announce a continued huge year-on-year increase in participation.

Latest figures show that 4,105 disabled young people have taken part in our sporting programme so far in 2014/15 – a 40 percent increase on the same period last year (2,934).

With a action-packed summer term ahead, Panathlon remains very much on target to deliver sporting opportunities to over 6,000 young people in 2014/15 – a 55 percent increase compared to 2013/14.

Liz Johnson, triple-Paralympic medallist and Panathlon ambassador, said: “It has been another fantastic term of Panathlon action and we are delighted to see a continued increase in participation figures compared to this time last year. Panathlon is all about providing sporting opportunities to as many disabled young people as possible, so this is a great boost for everyone involved.”

This latest participation increase continues a positive trend from the first half of this year and 2013/14, which saw over 400 schools take part in 84 of our ‘mini Paralympic’ competitions, with a total of 3,873 young people involved – a 38% increase on the previous year.

Suffolk Swim Gala - race startThe Panathlon programme continues to grow, with new regional multi-sport finals, an expanded swimming programme and Primary Panathlon programme, all contributing to the participation increase, which also reflects the growing demand for Panathlon around the county.

Panathlon currently reaches 25 counties and all 32 London boroughs and continues to grow nationwide, with 30 counties set to be involved by 2017.

“These latest figures reflect the growth of the Panathlon programme, both geographically and in terms of the range of programmes available,” said Liz.

“Panathlon now creates a pathway for pupils from the very start of the school. Our Primary Panathlon programme provides the opportunity to build foundation skills in a range of sports, which they can then use to compete at multi-sport events and, in many cases, go on to compete at regional level.”

These positive results for Panathlon come on the back of a sharp annual decline in the number of disabled adults taking part in sport or physical activity for 30 minutes once a week, as part of the latest Active People Survey (APS).

Whilst Panathlon’s participation figures cover a different metric and age range to those measured by the APS, such a large increase in the number of young people involved in Panathlon provides some positive news for the future of disability sport.

“The recent decline in the number of adults playing regular sport is a concern,” added Liz, “so it’s more important than ever that programmes like Panathlon help to get disabled young people active and to create that sporting habit for life.”