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Paralympic Opening festival

Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, hosted a massive Paralympic opening night community festival, with adults and children of different abilities taking part and having fun together.stoke mandeville
 
The free event on 29 August, saw over 3,500 people experience huge inflatable games, try Paralympic sports, a multi-sensory zone, art and craft activities, puppets and giant bubbles.  The Opening Ceremony was shown on a big screen, accompanied by a free barbecue.
 
The organisers are the Aylesbury Churches Network – 14 churches of different denominations underwrote the costs and provided over 200 volunteers. The event co-ordinator Rev Martin Kuhrt said, "Stoke Mandeville Stadium has been very supportive. On the night before our festival the four Paralympic Torches gathered there for a spectacular Flame Festival televised by Channel 4. We moved in the next day to set up."

The Aylesbury churches are working with More Than Gold. Spokesman Marty Woods siad: "Our festivals team and Paralympic task force helped make sure those with disabilities were the stars of the night. Along with the national disability charity Through the Roof, we’ve also trained 80 local people on working with people with disabilities."
 
In addition, the Aylesbury Churches Network was responsible for the only Paralympic live site to be run by churches. This was also  used for their annual community Festival in the Park on Saturday 1 September, including motorised bathtub racing. And for a united church service and picnic the following day.
 
Rev Kuhrt added, "This is the Big Society concept in action – and the churches are doing it in partnership with local and national authorities and charities. We are particularly proud of the heritage of Stoke Mandeville and determined to celebrate it and demonstrate the core Paralympic values it represents."
 
Jon Burns, UK Director of More Than Gold said, "This is a shining example of the way we are seeing churches working together to demonstrate the realty of what they believe to the communities they are part of. And history is being made."

Article by Inspire magazine


Inspire Magazine, 07/09/2012



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