Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Sun Breaks Through on First Paralympic Opening Night Community Festival
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
(ANS) -- Finally the rain stopped, the sun broke through and people of all ages and abilities just had fun, at the first ever Paralympic opening night community festival.
The free event, on Aug. 29, was at the birthplace of the Paralympics, Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
According to a news release from More Than Gold, the massive enterprise went the extra mile to be fully inclusive.
Much of the grass was decked with wheelchair-friendly boards. There were opportunities to try Paralympic sports. A multi-sensory area drew large numbers. Meanwhile, events like the tug-of- war became open to all, including wheelchair users.
More Than Gold said it had been a nail-biting experience for the organizers, the Aylesbury Churches Network, comprising 14 churches of different denominations which had planned and funded the event. Torrential rain throughout the day had threatened to bring disaster.
Just in time, the rain stopped. According to the news release, as the clouds broke, organizer Rev. Martin Kuhrt said, “I hardly believed I'd be standing in the sun and seeing so many people of all abilities having such fun.”
Between leading games of “What's the Time Mr. Woolf” and the “Hokey Cokey,” Marty Woods of More Than Gold told the crowd, “The great thing about this event is that everyone is equal. Everyone has something to offer, no matter what their ability or disability. Everyone is important.”
Rev. Keith Edwards, minister of Aylesbury Methodist Church, said in the news release, “It has been brilliant to see everyone being included. Our team of over 250 volunteers, includes some with disabilities. We just wanted to make people smile and have a fantastic start to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games.”
One of the volunteers, Lynn Watts, said in the news release, “I saw a partially sighted man, led by his wife, walk across the sensory path we created of grass, sand and pebbles. It was truly magical to see the expression on his face.”
According to More Than Gold, the Paralympic opening night community festival also included strolling clowns welcoming guests, a vast range of inflatables, human table-top football, arts and crafts, face painting, a free barbecue and a big screen showing of the opening ceremony.
The media attention gained by the event included Channel 4 creating a report for its daily Paralympic magazine program.
The Aylesbury Church Network is also responsible for the only Paralympic live site to be run by churches. It will also be used for its annual community Festival in the Park, and for a united church service and picnic the following day.
About More Than Gold
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.
|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 email@example.com.
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