Among the Arbour Vale students to have benefitted from competing for Berkshire in two Stoke Mandeville Panathlon Challenges is 14-year-old Daniel German.
Daniel, from Slough, is a Special Educational Needs student who also has severe autistic traits but, since getting involved in Panathlon, he has come on leaps and bounds, both in and out of the sporting arena.
“Daniel came to Panathlon last year. He’s now in a boccia club and he just loves competing,” said Kevin Hughes, who works closely with Daniel in his role as Inclusion Lead at Arbour Vale.
“He’s gone away with his mum and dad and he’s worked on his skill levels, but you don’t just see the difference in Daniel on the boccia court.
“He’s more settled within school now and he’s much calmer when he comes to activities like this. He understands now that he can’t make loads of noise when there’s a competition going on.
“Daniel has developed coping mechanisms through coming to events like Panathlon, so it’s helped him both in and outside of school.”
Arbour Vale compete at Panathlon Stoke Mandeville
A group of disabled Berkshire schoolchildren have won a special inter-county edition of the Panathlon Challenge at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games.
The pupils from Arbour Vale School in Slough, which educates children with special educational needs, won gold for Berkshire in their second consecutive year at Panathlon.
Using adaptive equipment, Panathlon allows youngsters with a broad range of disabilities to take part in a number of sports, including boccia, table cricket, polybat, new age kurling and athletics.
The Arbour Vale students, aged between 11 and 17, won five of the day’s six events to storm to victory over teams from Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Wiltshire.
“It’s been phenomenal. The team have absolutely loved it,” said Kevin Hughes, Inclusion Lead at Arbour Vale School.
“For us, Panathlon is about giving the opportunity to students to compete in a range of sports. To be able to come here with kids with a range of disabilities, from severe learning difficulties to physical impairments, is absolutely magnificent and something we really appreciate.”
“These events are brilliant. The children’s self-esteem goes right up, whether they win, lose or draw, it doesn’t really matter. They all walk away with medals and their faces light up,” said Hughes.
The event comprised two competitions – one for returning teams and one for Panathlon debutants – with 162 children from 11 schools across seven counties taking part.
A second Berkshire outfit were among the teams enjoying their first Panathlon. Made up of students from Addington School in Reading, supplemented by The Village School in East London, the Panathlon debutants won gold at boccia and silver in polybat on their way to third place overall.
Having two teams in the competition could only be good news for disabled sport in Berkshire, according to Hughes.
“It’s absolutely brilliant that there’s a second team from Berkshire here today. The more teams that have an opportunity to take part, the better,” he said.
“We’d love to come to Panathlon again. We want to show our support for the event. We want it to continue.”