Identical twins went head-to-head in ‘mini paralympics’ for disabled children

Twins Katie and Heidi Sheldon, from Langley School in Solihull, were among the stars in a ‘mini Paralympics’ for disabled children in Birmingham.

The 13-year-olds, who were born prematurely and have cerebral palsy, were part of the Langley team representing Warwickshire against teams from Birmingham and Worcestershire in the West Midlands Regional Panathlon Final at the Nechells Community Sports Centre.

The multi-sport competition included events such as boccia, table cricket, polybat, new-age curling and field athletics races.

Langley finished third to take bronze medals back to Solihull.

Over 10,000 children every year take part in Panathlon events, which give children with disabilities and special educational needs chances to engage in competitive sport that they are so often denied.

Katie said: “This is literally the best experience of my life.

“I love that they have so many sports to do in one short day. I love everything about it. I love having the chance to come out and represent our school. My favourite event is the curling.

“I would love to be in the Paralympics as a cyclist.

“I’d love to represent my country and show people that, whatever your disability, nothing should ever hold you back.”

Heidi added: “This is my second Panathlon and I like it because I get to meet new people and explore about myself as a person, my strengths and weaknesses. I love boccia the most of all.”

The twins – who support Birmingham City, sing in a band and have ambitions to appear on Britain’s Got Talent – were already looking forward to returning to school the next day.

“When we get back to school I can’t wait to show off our medals and brag about what we’ve done,” said Heidi.

Fellow Langley School student Brad Addison, 13, said: “Because most of the children here are in wheelchairs, it gives them inspiration to play sport and know that they’re capable of achieving success.

“I’m really competitive, but I’m also aware that taking part is important and congratulating other teams if they win is a big part of it. Curling is my favourite event. I am going to treasure my medals for ever.”

Joanna Botley, Langley’s SEN sports co-ordinator, added: “It’s difficult to describe in words what Panathlon events do for their self-confidence; it’s just amazing.

“To see the students interacting, team-building and working together is tremendous.

“We have been training really hard for this. We’ve paired the children up from different age groups, which is great because the older students can mentor the younger ones, to give them the opportunity to improve their communication skills.”

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