Every aspect of the garden, from the planting to the layout and hard landscaping, reflects Panathlon’s central aims: to normalise difference, inspire inclusion and ultimately promote mental wellness to children with disabilities and special educational needs through competitive sporting events. 

A curved pathway flows through undulating mounds of planting and connects both ends of the garden. This has been designed to promote accessibility whilst the mounds allow better visibility to wheelchair users and gives everyone the sense of being surrounded by planting. There is also space for a wheelchair user next to the seating area which continues the theme of inclusion. 

Panathlon brings so much joy to the children that they support and the garden has been designed to create a joyful and uplifting feel. There is an abundance of colourful planting which includes rare and unusual plants. Most notably, the curve stemmed trees which are a clear symbol of Panathlon’s aim to normalise difference.  

The garden has considered all aspects of how we feel joyful and includes fun, playful and surprising features and aims to remind us that that joy is for everyone and that all children should have the chance to enjoy life.

The rear boundary has steam bent timber panels which represent the waves of confidence that children feel after participating in Panathlon sporting event. Planting such as Actinidia kolomikta (AGM) (kolomikta vine) with pink-tipped foliage is an example of how to bring a little joy into a garden at home. Other rare and unusual planting can be spotted in this garden too. 

Every detail will continue to inspire joy in the garden’s permanent home at a special school in South London – one of the first to host a Panathlon event some 25 years ago and still involved to this day.