Boys and girls come out to play for sporting day
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
Mike Hill, KCC, Lt Col Andy Betts, Vice Lord Lt Richard Oldfield, Mayor of Ashford Winston Michael, Major Tony Adams and Cllr Stephen Dehnell
The choir formed of Key Stage 2 pupils
Children in the parade before the primary schools competition