STIFFORD Clays Primary School is changing the face of physical education for disabled children in schools after holding its first Paralympics competition.

The campaign was the brainchild of headteacher Anthony Peltier, who said the school had hosted Thurrock’s first Paralympics with new sports curling, boccia and archery.

Now Mr Peltier is hoping to introduce a borough-wide event.

He said: “We are doing things that other schools don’t do, by trying to include as many children as we can in sport. What we are trying to get across with children who are disabled, is we are looking at the barriers that they have to get across.

“Sports can change lives and the children here, who are likeafamily, deserve to have those opportunities.”

The programme began when rugby star Laura Kavanagh, a former student, whose career was cut short by an injury, was invited back to the school to coach.

Among the children whose sporting confidence has been transformed are Jacob Dessoy, seven, who has cerebral palsy; Joshua Lewis, 10, who has Larsen syndrome; Alfie Cassar, eight, who has to wear a helmet at all times because of Adams Oliver syndrome; and Yadpreet Thandi, seven, who is epileptic.

But Mr Peltier’s dream is to go bigger.

He said: “We invited Woodside Academy to come to our Paralympics in December. They didn’t know what to expect, but they walked away absolutely mesmerised.”

He added: “It’s the first time we have done this here. What we want to do, whatIhope we can do, is link with secondary schools and get them involved.

“We have a huge campaign now for all the borough to join in, and want to organise a big Paralympics event later on this year.

“In my view Joshua, and the others, could be a Paralympian, if he gets the right support. It’s the time now in Thurrock to make this big.”

Coach Laura, 24, said: “I love the work here and I work crazily hard to make sure what I’m teaching is good for the children. The biggest change I see in the children is them wanting to do more sports and being more confident, wanting to do afterschool clubs and so on.

“I can see a clear difference in so many of them.”


*In this week's paper edition, Alfie Cassar was referred to as having a 'soft scalp', but his condition is Adams Oliver Syndrome, which means he has a scalp defect, with the skull not fused, and fingers and toes not properly formed.