Panathlon had its biggest ever month in March with an astounding 5081 pupils with disabilities and special needs taking part in our competitions.
The month saw over 500 schools take part in our events which took place all over the country from Cornwall to Northumberland, with competitors guided and officiated by 848 Young Leaders.
The figures confirm Panathlon’s return to an even greater level of provision than before Covid, with our competitive pathway of local, county and regional finals returning in many parts of the country.
Many areas have seen massive expansion over the last two years, with Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Norfolk, Essex, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, to mention just a few, all benefiting from more competitions and more schools taking part.
Highlights from the 114 events in March included the return of our London Football programme, events in major growth areas of Cumbria and Greater Manchester, Humberside Primary Finals, huge ten-pin bowling competitions (including 174 children in one day in Croydon and 137 in Bromley!) and a poignant return for our traditional East London Finals at UEL Sportsdock – two years to the day since our last major event took place there before the first lockdown.
While Virtual Panathlon saw us effectively fill the void of SEND sport and physical activity provision during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the easing of restrictions has now allowed us to develop our external programmes even stronger than they were before – whilst continuing in-school provision for those who need it.
Two years of restrictions and confinement for SEND children have made our return to a full calendar of external events all the more enjoyable and enriching for competitors.
Robert McBride, PE teaching assistant at Woodchurch High School on the Wirral, summed up the impact whilst watching his pupils compete in our North West Regional Boccia Final in Liverpool.
He said: “At the start of the year, we were dead anxious about taking some of our children who have cerebral palsy out and about to play sports. But since we have taken part in Panathlons, they go back into their PE lessons at school and they are thriving. They join in with the mainstream pupils. It has been absolutely brilliant for them. They fit in seamlessly and they don’t worry about integrating any more. It opens up a whole new sporting world for them. It has been massive for these kids.”
Thank you to the entire Panathlon family – participants, Young Leaders, school staff, local sports partnerships, sponsors and our event staff for making it all happen!