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The second England School Sport Education Games were a great celebration and demonstration of how a 'Unified' approach to sport and education, can have a positive impact on young people, and a powerful legacy for the ISF Educational Games 2019 and the first ever ISF Inclusive Games, to be held next in Portugal.
Playing and learning together through sport breaks down barriers and perceptions; this was evident in the way athletes joined together in teams and played on an equal basis supporting each other. Knowledge and understanding of the history of the Paralympics, Special Olympics and Olympic Games, linked to the values and ethos, was an inspirational part of the England Games, with Paralympians talking of their commitment to achievements, proving their capabilities on the way.
The event took place in Stoke Mandeville and Much Wenlock. Delegations from seven schools, three Special Olympics and four Mainstream attended together with their teachers and helpers, and together with the PE Student Teachers. Eighty (80) young athletes were involved. The majority of participants stayed in the Olympic Lodge and took part in Workshop Sessions and Unified Sports at Stoke Maneville and Much Wenlock.
After a brief introduction to the Games, Delegations were taken on a Tour of Stoke Mandeville to learn the history of the Paralympic Games and see the site of the original flame, the stadium and the huts where the participants were accommodated.
This was followed by PlayUnified sessions led by qualified coaches from Wheelpower - the GB Wheelchair Basketball organisation. The sessions took place in the Sports Hall and outside on the Tennis Courts.
In the evening there were further Workshops; one led by Kate Grey - Paralympic Swimmer and BBC Sports Commentator, and sports coaching provided by other Paralympians. Students were able to hold the Paralympic torches from Sochi, Rio, Pyeongchang and Vancouver. This was followed by an Olympic Quiz in informal groups.
The following day the participants travelled to Much Wenlock - the site of the first Modern Olympic Games. We were hosted at William Brookes School, built on the site of the First Games. The Chair of the Much Wenlock Olympian Society did a presentation on the role of the town in the development of the Modern Olympic Games, and we followed the Olympic Trail in the town. This was followed by Unified Football on the field where the first Modern Olympic Games were held.
In the end the final approval was very late (for perfectly understandable reasons), so we were able to offer places to 6 PE students from 3 universities.
The students attended a two hour seminar on PlayUnified and received both a theoretical and practical grounding. They were also given resources to use in their teaching.
Their feedback was that it was an amazing event, they would like to be involved in the future, and that it had helped them to understand the importance of inclusion and the potential of all athletes to succeed.
We are grateful to the Youth Sport Trust for their assistance in contacting the universities running PlayUnified programmes.
The students experienced PlayUnified in a wide range of sports (Boccia, Table Tennis, Fencing, Tennis, Power Lifting, Hockey, Football, Dance and Wheelchair Basketball) so they will be fully prepared for teaching unified sport. They now also have a good understanding of the key concepts of how to implement inclusive sport and use appropriate learning tools for the development of inclusive Physical Education.
The PE students are now:
* more confident with delivering high quality inclusive sporting activities
* understand how to deliver a range of Unified sport in schools
* can demonstrate to other teachers in their schools (cascade knowledge) by sharing good practice
* understand about inclusive Unified sporting pathways through developing an association with Special Olympics GB and their
County Sport Partnership
* have an opportunity to volunteer at Special Olympics, Unified Sport school events/festivals
* have the opportunity to link with specific sports clubs on the development of Unified sport within Counties
NCSS will build a resource bank available to other teachers.
The Course Tutor has now delivered a workshop to PE teacher training students at Reading University and a further workshop will take place at Oxford Brookes University on October 30th. New students are becoming involved as we extend the programme.
We would like to carry over the remaining monies and apply for more finance to enable selected students (1 or2) to attend the ISF Inclusive Games and the ISF Education Games. They could attend as Ambassadors and Mentors, and could share their experiences by running a Workshop.
"The Teacher Trainees had not participated in any event like this previously so it was an opportunity to develop their awareness and understanding of Unified, working with young people with and without an Intellectual Disability. The teacher trainees all said they had enjoyed their learning and are keen to be part of the further training opportunities we will be offering. They all agreed that this event had supported their overall development. The event gave them more confidence to be working, and differentiating, within a future teaching setting, when they will have to apply processes, ensuring learning is happening, to young people with a range of abilities."
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