Panathlon’s newest programme, aimed for students with PMLD (Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties), opened in grand style in Birmingham, with 32 students taking part.

Cherry Oak School and Calthorpe Academy pupils participated in a range of activities, including new-age kurling, boccia blast, bean bag, slalom and sensory activities that involved the use of water, lights and music.

Jo Gavin, teacher in charge at Cherry Oak said: “Our pupils thoroughly enjoyed this PMLD Panathlon challenge and were extremely pleased to take home their first first-place trophy and gold medals.

“None of the pupils had participated in a challenge before, so this was a new and exciting experience for them. We are grateful for the opportunity that tailors the physical and sensory needs of our pupils.”

The event built on the pilot days in East London, Bradford and Middlesbrough, and launched a calendar for the 2016-17 school year that includes new competitions in London, York, Essex and Surrey.

The programme looks at active participation, both physically and intelectually, and its purpose is to:

o    Stimulate and motivate each student to use all their abilities in areas of development

o    Encourage each individual to function at their optimum level

o    Encourage each pupil to communicate their feelings, responses, preferences and choices in an increasingly consistent way and for the adults around them to respond appropriately

o    Value each individual’s needs and interests, and provide enriched opportunities to explore the world around them in purposeful ways

Steve Peaty, who oversees disability sport in the East London borough of Newham, venue for one of the pilot days, said: “It’s fantastic to do this event for a number of reasons. It’s very rare for these children to come out of their chairs and the freedom they have when they do this is great to watch. You can see they’re interested in the equipment and are excited to explore and try various activities. You need to remember these children do very little sporting activity and so every opportunity is like gold for them.”

Many thanks to the David and Claudia Harding Foundation for supporting this work.

David & Claudia Harding Foundation