Primary Panathlon has continued to grow during this school year, with 1,340 young disabled children involved in the London boroughs alone so far and other counties getting into full swing over the next few weeks.
There is now an extended pathway for these young children to get their first start in external and competitive sport.
Primary Panathlon gives each student the opportunity to compete across activities requiring different skills. These activities include Messi football skills, volleybat, new-age kurling spin, boccia blast, flight path, parachute popcorn, target cricket and precision bean bag.
Each of these skills is linked to the sports included within the secondary school Panathlon programme and stand-alone event days, such as boccia and football.
Panathlon’s London primary programme, which is supported by the Mayor of London’s office and the Wembley National Stadium Trust, has seen 30 days of activity this year so far, through coaching and borough competition days. This year for the first time the regional winners will progress to a Primary Panathlon London Final.
LB Barking and Dagenham holds three days as part of the London programme. So far two of the three days have taken place, with 162 young people involved, of whom 90 were new to Panathlon.
Last year LB Barking and Dagenham provided the Wembley National Stadium Trust Outstanding Primary Young Achiever in Sophie Wood. This year her school, William Bellamy, has again been to the fore, winning the borough’s opening Primary Panathlon featuring 10 schools.
Donna Rose, the school’s PE lead, said: “When first mooted, Primary Panathlon sounded like the perfect way of allowing the primary age to play sport in a team and, most importantly, where they could be involved in everything.
“The school now has it as a central part of its PE and lunchtime sports clubs now exist for the younger children.
“We, as a school, have seen the massive impact Primary Panathlon has had and also other sporting opportunities outside the school,”
Barking and Dagenham’s school development manager, Elaine Burgess, added: “We now hold three Primary Panathlon Festivals a year. They are brilliant for boosting the children’s confidence.
“We also have Year 10 and Sixth Form students from Barking Abbey School, who volunteer as Panathlon Leaders. We couldn’t have the festivals without them. This gives them success through inspiring the younger children as role models.”
Following Birmingham’s successful Primary Panathlon season, with over 160 children involved, other counties outside London stage competitions over the next few weeks, with consecutive days across Essex, a 12-team event in West Yorkshire and a North-East Final to be held at Eston Leisure Centre in Middlesbrough on February 3rd featuring teams from Tees Valley, North Yorkshire, Durham, and Tyne and Wear.
North Yorkshire, which stages two Primary Panathlon days, will supply three teams to the Middlesbrough event – Mowbray from Choppington in Northumberland, The Forest from Harrogate and Hob Moor from York.
Mowbray were invited after winning the second of the North Yorkshire Primary Panathlons last November, when there were 64 competitors, including some mainstream SEN from Askrigg and Wensleydale schools, the first for these children in a competitive environment.
Katie Oliver, head of primary sport at Mowbray, said: “It was a fabulous event. The feedback from teachers and attending pupils was excellent. We look forward to competing against other schools from across the region.”
The previous North Yorkshire Primary Panathlon – which was attended by 54 children – was won by The Forest.