28 August 2012
Churches host Paralympic opening ceremony event
Churches in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, are hosting an opening night community festival.
The free event, from 6pm – 1pm on Wednesday, marks the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is expected to draw more than 3,500 people.
It will include inflatable games, an opportunity to try Paralympic sports, a multi-sensory zone, art and craft activities, puppets and giant bubbles.
The event has been organised by Aylesbury Churches Network – 14 churches of different denominations. They are also underwriting the costs and providing at least 200 volunteers on the night.
The event co-ordinator Rev Martin Kuhrt said: "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 their communities and visitors.
Spokesman Marty Woods said: "Our festivals team and Paralympic taskforce 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 eighty local people on working with people with disabilities."
In addition, the Aylesbury Churches Network is responsible for the only Paralympic live site to be run by churches.
Rev 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: "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."