South Tyneside youngsters take on others from across Tyne and Wear

Pupils from Keelmans Way and Bamburgh Schools take part in the Panathlon Challenge
Pupils from Keelmans Way and Bamburgh Schools take part in the Panathlon Challenge

Teams of youngsters from South Tyneside proved that having a disability is no bar from sport when they took part in the Panathlon Challenge.

The event saw around 100 pupils, aged from 12 to 19, from Keelman’s School in Hebburn and Bamburgh School in South Shields join forces to compete against their counterparts from across Tyne and Wear.

This is a valuable opportunity for our pupils

Michael Johnston

The team, named the Blue Jays, took on groups in a range of disability sports including table cricket, new age kurling, field athletics and boccia - club throwing

Panathlon, a national charity which has provided disabled children with the opportunity to take part in competitive sport since 1999, staged the ‘mini paralympics’ as part of Gateshead’s Legacy Games.

Keelmans Way teacher Michael Johnston said: “This is a valuable opportunity for our pupils to socialise with youngsters from other schools. They love the competition side of it too and they gain a sense of accomplishment you just can’t beat.”

The Panathlon Challenge Tyne and Wear Multisports Finalwas won by Newcastle schools Sir Charles Parsons School and Percy Hedley, which competed as the Red Kites.

Lisa Kelly, educational practitioner at Bamburgh School, said: “It’s nice for the children to take part in different activities. We’ve discovered polybat today, which we’ll probably introduce to our own PE lessons. “

The competitions were presided over by 28 team leaders from the sixth forms of Gateshead College and Thorp Academy, Ryton.

Jamie Hardy, 17, of Gateshead College, who used the experience as part of his Coaching and Progression Level 3 qualification,said: “I think those here today are just as competitive as the able-bodied kids – and they enjoy themselves even more.”