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Reach for the stars

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 16 June 2011

Today Gemma Hunt hears the extraordinary story of Wanda Summers who overcame severe injury to reach her goal.

  • Against All the odds

    Against All the odds

  • Teacher's notes programme 6

    Programme content:

    VOXPOPS: Children talk about an occasion when they’ve had to work hard at something to improve – how ‘practice makes perfect’
    SONG: Come and Praise no 43 – ‘Give me oil in my lamp’
    STORY: Reach for the stars – Wanda Summers story as told to writer Rob John
    REFLECTION: … on working hard to achieve great things; on those people who are an inspiration to us

    Pre-programme questions:

    • What are you looking forward to over the summer? Will you be playing any sport?
    What kind of sport and physical activity do you like?
    • Have you heard the phrase, ‘practice
    makes perfect’? Can you think of
    something that you have worked very hard to achieve, something that you’ve had to keep practicing, keep on working at to achieve success?
    • Is there someone you admire who has
    had to work hard to achieve their goals, perhaps a famous sports person or it might be someone in your own family who has worked hard to get a qualification or the job they’ve always wanted. Maybe it’s someone who has worked very hard to earn money for a special holiday or to look after their family well.

    Story synopsis: Reach for the stars –
    Wanda Summers story as told to writer
    Rob John

    For today’s story we hear an actress speaking the words of Wanda Summers, as told to the writer. We learn about Wanda’s love of running Ultra-Marathons – six times longer than ordinary marathon races – and her love of other sports like paragliding.
    But one day while paragliding things to terribly wrong. Wanda’s glider crashes and she sustains a very severe back injury. The doctors tell her if she has an operation she may just walk again, but she will certainly never run. Wanda rejects
    the operation, hoping that he bones may set themselves, but she is told that she will more than likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
    Wanda makes a promise to her young son that she will recover. She sets herself the target of running the Gobi Desert Ultra-Marathon in a
    year’s time. And then the impossible begins to happen… Wanda begins an amazing recovery.

    After the programme:


    • How many miles is an ordinary Marathon race and how many miles in an Ultra-Marathon? (26, 150)
    • What happened to Wanda Summers that
    nearly paralysed her?
    • What do you think gave Wanda the strength to recover?
    • Who did she make a promise to?
    What did she promise and what goal did
    she set herself?


    • Wanda Summers made a promise to her
    son that she would walk again and then she set herself the goal of running the Ultra- Marathon. Set yourself a goal or some goals
    for this week and for the rest of this term.
    Goals can be anything:
    – Sporting goals like: I will practice goal scoring three times a week
    – Learning goals such as: I will improve my spellings by practicing an extra ten minutes every day
    – Helpfulness goals like: I will tidy my room every week before I’m asked
    Write your goals down and share them with your friends; that way you can check-up on each other and encourage each other to achieve your goals.

    • Working in groups, create a board game called The Goals Game. You could have a track with Start at one end and Goal at the other. Some squares could give bonuses like:
    – Stick to your goal for one week –
    go forward three
    – Your friend says you’ve done well –
    take an extra throw of the dice

    Others could be negative like:
    – You give up on your goal for today – go back three
    – You forget to help a friend with their goal – throw the dice and go back that number of spaces

    • Think about any board games you know, are there ideas you could use for your own game?

    • Write your own prayer or reflection about achieving goals. It should be something that makes your listeners think about their own goals and how they could achieve them. You could send your ideas to Gemma. You can find the contact form at: contactusform


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    Together (BBC Learning)

    Collective worship / assembly resources for school children aged 7 to 11, primarily for use in…

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