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Children with SEND take part in ActiveWestminster’s first ever mini marathon

On Tuesday 19 October, sixty five children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) participated in ActiveWestminster’s first ever mini marathon.

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Children at the starting line of ActiveWestminster's mini marathon

Published: 20 October 2021

With expert support from London Marathon Events, Disability Sports Coach and Panathlon, the amateur athletes, who are all from local schools in Westminster, took to the running track at Paddington Recreation Ground, the very track where Sir Roger Bannister trained in preparation for breaking the four-minute mile.

Amidst rapturous support from family, friends and teachers, the children tackled the 2.6 mile distance and were awarded with well-earned medals and certificates.

Two of the mini marathons participants with their medals

One participant said:

This was really fun and I'm glad I took part and didn't give up.

Another said:

We are doing this for SEND individuals and we hope to raise awareness about people like us.

At both the starting and finishing lines, video messages were screened from British wheelchair racer and Paralympian, Nathan Maguire who said:

I have raced in two mini-marathons in my career when I was younger and I’m now a silver medallist at the Paralympic games. You never know where today might take you and it could just be the start of your journey.

Participants crossing the finishing line

ActiveWestminster is an arm of Westminster City Council that is dedicated to helping all people benefit from the value of physical activity.

It works in partnership with hundreds of public, private and voluntary sector organisations to promote a wide variety of attractive and accessible opportunities, which encourage people to take part in physical activity, leisure and sport at any and every level.

Over the past decade, the council has made major investments in developing new and improved sports and leisure facilities around the borough of Westminster.

Westminster now provides some of the best access to community sports facilities in the country and works hard to sustain and grow its voluntary, athletic and community sports sector.

Specifically for young people with SEND, ActiveWestminster works closely with specialist organisations to run a number of initiatives. This includes, and is not limited to, dance classes with Dance Westminster, disability sports with Club Westminster and a variety of activities with Edutain. Activities are being ramped up during the upcoming October half-term so families and carers are actively encouraged to get in touch with the organizers.

Councillor Lorraine Dean, Lead Member for SEND at Westminster City Council said:

I want to pass on my immense congratulations to all the young people who took part in the mini marathon this week. I hope they have been inspired by Nathan Maguire to perhaps become the next generation of Paralympians one day!

ActiveWestminster do an incredible job of offering a wide variety of accessible opportunities to residents in Westminster. I really encourage people from the SEND community to take advantage on all that is on offer to reap the benefits that physical activity has on our health and wellbeing and for connecting with like-minded people in the community.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of London Marathon Events, said:

An incredible half a million school children have taken part in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon in schools over the past month.

The pupils taking part in the Mini Marathon have been of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, including those who completed their 2.6 miles at Paddington Recreation Ground.

It was particularly wonderful to give these Westminster pupils their very own London Marathon finish line experience. I am sure it is a moment they will treasure for many years to come and we hope to see them back taking part again next year.