Paralympic legacy alive in Dunmow

‘BE the best at whatever you try your hand at’ was the message behind a unique experience aimed at keeping the Paralympic legacy alive in Dunmow.

Two Team GB stars, Dan Bentley and Richard Chiassaro, visited Helena Romanes School as part of a Paralympic Roadshow being rolled out by Essex County Council.

Bentley, from Dunmow, was a gold medal winner at Beijing 2008 and a bronze medal winner at London 2012, while Chiassaro is Team GB’s top ranked T54 100m and 200m wheelchair racer.

Students got the chance to quiz the pair, and also try their hand at a range of disability events including table cricket, goalball, boccia and wheelchair basketball.

Chiassaro spent the morning teaching the students the nuances of his first sporting love, wheelchair basketball.

“I really enjoyed it,” said the Essex Outlaws wheelchair basketball player. “It’s good for them to experience a disability sport – most find it is a lot harder than it looks.”

Lorna Booth, head of girls’ PE at HRS, said the day was all about giving the students a chance to try something new.

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“It was about promoting the Paralympic Legacy by giving the students the message: ‘be the best at whatever you try your hand at’,” she told the Broadcast.

“All the children who were picked to take part are really keen in lessons but don’t necessarily take part in extra curricular activities – we wanted to give them the opportunity to try something different.”

The HRS leg was the 36th stop on the roadshow – each show has brought a Paralympic medal winner or a 2016 hopeful to meet and inspire the students.

It is visiting schools across the county and is aimed at promoting Team GB’s current and future Paralympians by giving students the opportunity to have a go at disability events, as well as meeting the stars themselves.

Howard Nicholls, of the county council’s Legacy Team, said the visits are all part of the building upon the legacy in the county.

“The outcome we’re looking for is to raise awareness of disability and disability sports by giving students an experience of a Paralympic sport so they understand that there is a lot of skill involved,” he said.

“Hopefully at the end it also builds the profile of the athletes, which will help with sponsorship, and we can support the medal winners of the future.”