Paralympic torch relay: School Reporters follow the flame

Claire Lomas lights cauldron in London's Trafalgar Square to launch the Paralympic torch relay Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Claire Lomas, who was paralysed in a horse riding accident, lit the cauldron in Trafalgar Square to launch the Paralympic torch relay

The wait for the 2012 Paralympic Games is almost over, with the torch relay giving communities around the UK the chance to share in the excitement of the final days and hours before the event begins.

Four flames have been lit at the highest peaks in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and they will come together at Stoke Mandeville on Tuesday before a 24-hour relay will bring the torch to the opening ceremony of the Games.

School Reporters are on hand at all the key locations the torch is visiting to offer their perspective on its journey and their thoughts and feelings about the Paralympics themselves.

ENGLAND - Stoke Mandeville Stadium

Image copyright School Report
Image caption The team got the chance to meet Sir Steve Redgrave at the event

Stoke Mandeville is synonymous with the Paralympic Games because it was here that the movement first got started.

Inspired by the work of Dr Ludwig Guttman, the hospital held the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948 - coinciding with the Olympic games in London that year - for injured servicemen.

On Tuesday, Stoke Mandeville is the location where the four flames will unite before setting off on a 24-hour relay to London for the opening ceremony.

And School Reporters from Beaconsfield High School in Buckinghamshire were on hand to report on the event.

"From the high spirits of the vast crowds to the inspirational stories told by the athletes, the atmosphere at Stoke Mandeville was truly incredible," wrote Emma, Grace and Rebecca in a fantastic report about their experience.

"We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and excitement of the event and truly believe the Paralympic movement can only go from strength to strength."

School Reporters find out how sports rehab helps disabled athletes achieve their goals

Meanwhile, pupils from another school have also been looking into the Paralympic Games and its special relationship with Stoke Mandeville.

When School Reporters Jasmine, Ria and Luke from Lealands High School in Luton learned about the history of Stoke Mandeville during a school assembly, they decided to investigate further.

They visited Stoke Mandeville Stadium and they got the chance to interview Georgina Friend, who works at the National Spinal Injuries Centre and is now volunteering at the Paralympics with the GB wheelchair rugby players.

WALES - Cardiff Bay

Image copyright School Report
Image caption The reporters captured this image of the flame arriving in Cardiff

School Reporters from St Telio's Church in Wales High School braved the wet weather in Cardiff to cover the torch's arrival, interviewing local police officers, Disability Sport Wales chief executive Jon Morgan, Paralympic gold medallist John Harris and rower Zak Lee-Green among many others on a great night of reporting.

You can listen to their report on their experience on their school website, and their interview with John Harris, who won gold in the discus in 1984, is particualrly worth a listen - here's a few highlights.

"The Paralympics has meant everything to me," said Harris.

School Reporters from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland report on the torch's journey around the UK.

"Everything I've ever done since winning that gold medal has revolved around that time when I was the best - it gave me kudos and credibility.

"I wasn't just a person with a disability. Now... well, you guys are interviewing me so I must have some sort of street cred!

"For me the Paralympics completely and totally changed my life. Sport gave me a way out, and a life and something that is irreplaceable."

SCOTLAND - Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh

Image copyright School Report
Image caption School Reporter Antony joined the Paralympic torch celebrations in Edinburgh

After an early morning cauldron lighting event at the Mound in Edinburgh, the Paralympic flame toured the city before ending at an evening celebratory event at the Meadowbank Stadium.

School Reporter Antony from Royal Blind School was there to witness its arrival and soak up the atmosphere:

"It was really good. There was a lot of great atmosphere, everyone was so excited and jumping around!

"I was so amazed that I got to see the Paralympic flame because I might never see it again. I watched the procession before the flame was lit. When it was there was a loud cheer.

"It was fantastic to watch and be there."

Antony also spoke to Chris and Hanna who were torchbearers at the event and he asked them about how they felt to be involved. Chris said "I couldn't believe it!"

NORTHERN IRELAND - Belfast City Hall

The Paralympic Flame Festival took place at Belfast City Hall and young journalists Naomi, Emma, Deanna and Rachel were there reporting for Headliners and BBC News School Report and to celebrate the torch being in Northern Ireland.

"The night started with a bang when we received our press passes which made us very excited. There were hundreds of people crowding around the main stage and eagerly awaiting the night's acts.

Image copyright School Report
Image caption Young reporters Deanna, Rachel, Emma and Naomi got their hands on the Paralympic torch too!

"First up were 'Luminous Soul', a disability dance group, which truly inspired us with their strong routine who created a buzz with their energetic performances on stage!

"And we did our first interview with them. They told us how disabled people can pursue a career in professional dancing. They certainly had the crowd up on their feet and the atmosphere was electric.

"Then the Scouts who had taken the torch up to the top of Slieve Donard came on stage and each told us a bit about their stories and what the Paralympics meant to them.

"And we saw Paralympians proving to the rest of the world that no matter what your disability, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Rachel said that for someone who isn't sporty like her it was great to see. It was inspirational.

X Factor star Joe McElderry on the Paralympics and songwriting

"During the event we also had a chance to hold the Paralympic torch and interview the Lord Mayor of Belfast.

"But then last on stage was the star of the night, the incredibly talented Joe McElderry - that was when the party really started!

"The atmosphere at the event was truly electric and a good night was had by all. The buzz was incredible and it has made us all even more excited and waiting in anticipation for the Paralympics to begin."


School Reporters will also be reporting on every day of the Paralympics and rounding-up all the build-up to the Games, as well as appearing on a variety of BBC outlets.

And pupils from around the UK have already been reporting on the Paralympic Games and its torch relay, giving us the perfect opportunity to showcase their work.


Image copyright School Report
Image caption Lord Coe chatted with Fatima at the media launch

In such a historic year of huge events in the UK, School Reporters have been telling the story of the Paralympics and its torch relay for some time.

Back in September last year, School Reporter Fatima from Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets got the chance to attend the official media launch for the Paralympic torch relay at the Olympic Park with the rest of the journalists covering the story.

Fatima took full advantage of the opportunity, interviewing London 2012 chief Lord Coe who told her that the Paralympic torch relay "is different in scope and spirit" to its Olympic predecessor, while Lee Pearson, a member of the ParalympicGB equestrian team, said he thought that "it's good for the Paralympics to have its own torch relay and identity".

London 2012 chief Lord Coe talks to School Reporter Fatima

Other interviewees on the day included ParalympicGB stars of recent Games swimmer Dave Roberts and 800m runner Danny Crates.

Meanwhile, School Reporters Prolet, Aura-Fay, Gavin and Elma from The Lammas School and Sports College in Leyton attended another big launch event for the Paralympic torch relay in Trafalgar Square earlier this year.

Image copyright School Report
Image caption School Reporter Gavin finds out how one torchbearer feels about taking part in the relay

The reporting team interviewed several torchbearers, including artist Sue Williams who said: "It's quite amazing - it will be a real honour to carry the flame.

"I knew I was nominated but I didn't think I'd get through so it is really amazing!"

When the main route of the Paralympic torch relay was announced in May, pupils from schools all around the UK gave their reaction to having the event come to their local area.

Students from The Billericay School in Essex, Royal Manor Arts College in Dorset, Carrickfergus College near Belfast, John Grant School in Great Yarmouth, Whitley Academy in Coventry, Sandelford Special School in Coleraine and Uplands Community College in east Sussex all interviewed their classmates to get the perspective of young people in the communities the torch will be visiting.

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