Friday, August 24, 2012
First Paralympic Opening Night Community Festival to be Hosted at Stoke Mandeville
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
(ANS) -- Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, is to host the world's first Paralympic opening night community festival.
According to a news release, the event will feature adults and children of different abilities having fun together.
The free event, from 6pm to 10 pm on Aug. 29 marks the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Between three to five thousand people will experience huge inflatable games, opportunities to try Paralympic sports, a multi-sensory zone, art and craft activities, puppets and giant bubbles.
The news release said the opening ceremony will be shown on a big screen, accompanied by a free barbeque.
The organizers are the Aylesbury Churches Network, comprising 14 churches of different denominations. The group is also underwriting the costs and providing at least 200 volunteers on the night.
The event coordinator Rev. Martin Kuhrt said in the news release, “Stoke Mandeville Stadium has been very supportive. On the night before our festival the four Paralympic Torches gather there for a spectacular Flame Festival televised by Channel 4. We move in the next day to set up.”
The Aylesbury churches are working with More Than Gold, the agency helping churches use the Games to serve its communities and visitors.
Spokesman Marty Woods said in the news release, “'Our festivals team and Paralympic task force have helped make sure those with disabilities will be 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 news release said, the Aylesbury Churches Network is responsible for the only Paralympic live site to be run by churches. This will also be used for its annual community Festival in the Park on Aug. 1, that includes motorized bathtub racing. There will be a united church service and picnic the following day.
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 in the news release, “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.”
Since the 1996 Atlanta Games the Christian community's involvement with the world's major sporting events has been under the banner “More Than Gold.” This provides a flag for united faith-based outreach, hospitality and service, and also an interface between the event's organizing committee and the churches.
To get ready for the 2012 Games, More Than Gold was established as a charitable trust in 2008 under the chairmanship of Lord Brian Mawhinney. It has the support of all main denominations and over 60 Christian organizations and mission agencies.
For more information go to www.morethangold.org.uk
|Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."
Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at http://www.homelessinthecity.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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