Today’s Blog is written by guest contributor, Mark Bullock.
Panathlon is a charity that provided sporting opportunities to over 17,500 disabled young competitors in the 2017/18 academic year. Over 1,000 schools across the country take part in ‘mini Paralympic’ multi-sport competitions for primary or secondary school children, along with dedicated football, boccia and swimming programmes.
This has been extended further recently with competitions for college students aged over 16. Panathlon has in the last few years trained thousands of young leaders (3,931 in 2018) aged 14-19, who act as sports officials for the competitions.
I attended the London Multi Sports Final at the Copper Box Arena a couple of years ago and was very impressed with what Panathlon offer.
Just recently I went to my first Primary Panathlon, a programme targeted at primary age SEN children, in Havering and once again experienced first hand the impact that Panathlon has on the disabled children taking part. Pupils from eight Havering schools came together for a day of competition in a range of sports including boccia, new age kurling and table cricket.
Young leaders from a local 6th form school Campion (pictured right) supported the running of the event and developed leadership skills and an awareness of disability sport in the process. The reaction of the children and the teachers emphasises the importance of the work.
Panathlon provides an opportunity for disabled children to represent their school, compete, possibly win a gold, silver or bronze medal and meet children from other schools. It encourages schools to provide opportunities within school as the children train and prepare for their Panathlon event.
The charity fills an important space in providing opportunities for disabled children to be active and develop skills both on and off the field of play. My blog on inclusive PE suggests there is much to be done in developing opportunities for disabled pupils to engage in PE and Panathlon plays a vital role in providing competitive opportunities for disabled children: http://www.sportsthinktank.com/blog/2018/01/inclusive-physical-education
It is vital that all children receive quality physical education and the opportunity to be active. Panathlon is a key part of the jigsaw providing opportunities for a group of children that might otherwise miss out on the benefits of physical activity and the social interaction that the events provide.
Here is a link that shows what people think of Panathlon including Alex Brooker: http://panathlon.com/what-they-say/
I am really looking forward to working on Panathlon events going forward.