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Paralympics birthplace to host community festival

Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, is to host the world’s first Paralympic opening night community festival ...

Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, is to host the world’s first Paralympic opening night community festival, with adults and children of different abilities taking part and having fun together.
 
The free event, from 6-10pm tomorrow night (Wednesday 29 August), marks the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Between 3-5000 people will experience huge inflatable games, opportunities to try Paralympic sports, a multi-sensory zone, art and craft activities, puppets and giant bubbles.
 
The Opening Ceremony is to be shown on a big screen, accompanied by a free barbecue.
 
The organisers are the 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. Said spokesman Marty Woods, "Our festivals team and Paralympic task force 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 80 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. This will also be used for their annual community Festival in the Park on Saturday 1 September that includes motorised bathtub racing. And for a united church service and picnic the following day.
 
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."

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