Boys and girls come out to play for sport­ing day

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Challenger Games - By Molly Mile­ham-Chap­pell

The first Kent Chal­lenger Games was con­sid­ered a roar­ing suc­cess by teach­ers and pupils from across Kent who took part.

Hun­dreds of pupils de­scended on the Julie Rose Sta­dium in Ash­ford to unite in a day of fun and ac­tiv­i­ties last Fri­day.

At the be­gin­ning of the year, the char­ity set out to bring sport to Kent’s young and dis­abled school chil­dren, to unite and reen­gage them.

The event brought to­gether 500 school chil­dren from 50 schools, aided by mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, to par­tic­i­pate in games that draw on in­ner strengths to help par­tic­i­pants achieve their true po­ten­tial and en­gage chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties and those who are dis­en­gaged so­cially.

The in­spi­ra­tion for the event came from the Par­a­lympics and In­vic­tus Games, where com­peti­tors over­looked their dif­fi­cul­ties, and also served as an op­por­tu­nity to re­in­force the mil­i­tary covenant in Ash­ford, to bring to­gether mil­i­tary and civil­ian com­mu­ni­ties.

Each school team com­prised of 10 pupils, each with dis­abil­i­ties in the wider sense, in­clud­ing lack of par­tic­i­pa­tion in sports, and those who are so­cially adrift and dis­en­gaged.

They were also sup­ported by am­putee and dis­abled mil­i­tary vet­er­ans act­ing as their cham­pi­ons.

Mike Hill, Kent County Coun­cil Cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity ser­vices, said: “I found it was a tremen­dous at­mos­phere and I’ve spo­ken to many peo­ple who have said it’s been a re­ally ex­cit­ing and in­spir­ing event.

“We were ap­proached by Win­ston Michael and Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil to see if the county coun­cil could pro­vide some sup­port.

“We cer­tainly pro­vided sup­port for the prin­ci­ple of it and I’m glad to say we were able to find some sig­nif­i­cant re­sources and help them out.

“We’ve brought to­gether hun­dreds of young chil­dren and also the very strong mil­i­tary con­nec­tion which is very im­por­tant. As an ex-mil­i­tary man my­self I re­ally value that.”

Ma­jor Si­mon Dean, from Chal­lenger Troop, and one of the mil­i­tary covenant rep­re­sen­ta­tives, said: “It’s very im­por­tant we don’t for­get our armed forces and those who have served.

“I’m so proud of ev­ery­body who has taken part.

“It’s been an in­cred­i­ble ef­fort, and peo­ple who have never met be­fore have just turned up and slot­ted to­gether to make it hap­pen.”

The Kent Chal­lenger Games also man­aged to se­cure £5,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme and was nom­i­nated to be the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let’s char­ity of the year.

Chil­dren in the pa­rade be­fore the pri­mary schools com­pe­ti­tion at the Kent Chal­lenger Games held at the Julie Rose Sta­dium

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Mike Hill, KCC, Lt Col Andy Betts, Vice Lord Lt Richard Old­field, Mayor of Ash­ford Win­ston Michael, Ma­jor Tony Adams and Cllr Stephen Dehnell

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The choir formed of Key Stage 2 pupils

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Chil­dren in the pa­rade be­fore the pri­mary schools com­pe­ti­tion

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