Yesterday (Tuesday 10th March) saw the East London Regionals of the Panathlon Challenge, held at the University of East London Sports Dock. Schools from across the area competed in a ‘mini Paralympic’ competition and wide range of events – from cricket to team races to curling.
At the end of the day, Barking & Dagenham group came first place and will progress to the London Grand Final on the 1st of July. In addition, Hackney came second, Newark third and Havering came fourth.
Panathlon Challenge provides sporting opportunities for over 17,500 young disabled people each year, as well as leadership opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people across London and Essex. Providing 397 ‘mini Paralympic’ competitions, training courses and coaching days, without Panathlon many of the young competitors would otherwise not have an opportunity to take part in competitive sport.
Susan, mother of Panathlon Young Leader Georgie who was helping at the event, told us what the programme means to her and her daughter: “The Panathlon has changed her life, not just hers but mine too. For Georgie, when she was a junior there wasn’t a competitive sport option for disabled students so she would never get picked and she hated PE. And then when she got to a senior school and she was introduced to Panathlon it totally changed her life. It gave her confidence.”
“She was coming home with medals like “Oh my God I’ve won something for the first time!” and from there she got so much confidence that she started going to colleges, working on anti-bullying projects, doing speeches, working with BBC – she was on sports relief… she wants to represent Great Britain in club-throwing. On Thursdays she also volunteers doing sports for disabled kids… But that wouldn’t have been possible without Panathlon, it’s like a ripple effect… From Panathlon Georgie’s got three things: confidence, made friends and got a future.”
Our Head of Partnerships and Development Steven attended the event and awarded the medals: “This is my first time attending one of Panathlon’s regional finals (East London). It’s an amazing experience, seeing the exceptional young competitors and speaking to the committed parents and school staff supporting them and the event. It is great to see how Jack Petchey Foundation’s contribution is having an impact on their lives, their families and also highlighting to other young people what can be achieved.”
One of the leaders at the event, Scott Simmons, previously won a Jack Petchey Leader Award for his work volunteering and increasing cricket opportunities for young people. He assists and mentors several leaders in the Panathlon scheme. “It’s a great day, James does a great job and the organisation of the events is just fantastic.”
To find out more about our partnership with Panathlon, click here, or to find out more about their competitions, visit their website.