East Lancashire pupils

Youngsters play Boccia

During the opening ceremony

First published in Sport

THE thrills and spills of the Paralympics came to East Lancashire recently when pupils took part in their own version of the summer sporting spectacular.

More than 120 pupils from 21 primary schools got in to the sporting spirit when they took part in the Blackburn with Darwen Paralympic festival – inspired by the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The event was organised and delivered by Sporting NRG and the Blackburn with Darwen Education Improvement Partnership and was hosted by Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. The event was targeted at children with disabilities and special educational needs aged between seven and 11-years-old.

And just like the London Paralympics it was countries and not schools who were represented as pupil were split into one of four teams; Great Britain, Europe, Americas and Rest of the World. The event kicked off with an opening ceremony which saw teams parading team banners and flags around the hall, followed by a mass Olympic warm-up!

All participants then completed a carousel of activities, working as an individual and on behalf of their team. Activities included boccia, seated volleyball, a treasure hunt and mini Olympic stations, and were led by coaches from Sporting NRG and Young Ambassadors from St Bede’s Specialist Sports College. Children also had the opportunity to access the new multi-sensory room throughout the course of the event.

Amy Dixon, a coach from Sporting NRG said: “This was a fantastic event to be a part of and I loved seeing every child express themselves in each activity. “While I was coaching the children in boccia, they learnt new skills and had fun, but at the same time were competitive to win – it was great.”

The event concluded with a presentation and medal award ceremony for the winning team. It was a pleasure to see the children socialising with and encouraging pupils on from other schools throughout the day. Mrs Kit, from Longshaw Juniors said: “This was a great event to continue the Paralympic legacy. “It was wonderful to see so many children from the borough being involved and having so much fun.”

The morning winners were Europe made up of pupils from Daisyfield, Feniscowles, Lammack, Longshaw and St Pauls, Feniscowles.

The afternoon winner was Great Britain represented by pupils from Hawthorns, Lower Darwen Primary, Meadowhead, Roe Lee and St Peters Darwen.

School Games Organiser Andrew Mercer was delighted with the way the event went.

“It was a delight to see the event so well supported by schools, so much so that to enable all children the opportunity to participate the organisers had to split those attending into morning and afternoon sessions “I would like to thank Sporting NRG and all of their staff for making this event so successful,” he said.

“ A massive thank you must also go to QEGS for the use of their facilities and to the seven Young Ambassadors from St Bede’s who were fantastic coaching and supporting the children, differentiating all activities for each individual child and making the Paralympics the success it was.”

The Young Ambassadors were were Harry Starkie, Thomas Duckworth, Neeve Hulton, Freya Knowles, Ebony Harrison and Grace Orrell.

Three of the coaches who delivered the Boccia activities on the day; Amy Dixon (Sporting NRG Apprentice), Tom Duckworth (St Bedes) and Harry Starkie (St Bedes) – and also Sarah Wilkinson from Westholme who couldn’t be present – have been selected by Boccia England to be part of the National Young Coaches Academy. “This is a fantastic accolade for them as they are within a team of only 20 coaches selected throughout the whole of the UK,” added Mercer.

“ They will be locally supported and mentored through the Boccia Club ‘Don’t ‘Dis’ Ability, part of Blackburn Community Sports Club and will be attending national training camps in January.

“They will also get the opportunity to meet the GB Paralympics Boccia team and watch them in training. “This is a fantastic achievement for each young coach and we wish them all the best.”

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