The Challenge Games is a two day event of sporting activities, athletics, fun and games for school children who have a disability -regardless of their type of disability – hearing or visually impaired, intellectually impaired, physically impaired (cerebral palsy, spinal injury, amputee, wheelchair dependent, short stature), autism, attention deficit, learning difficulty – or any other . .
any school child – from prep grade, through primary and on to final year of secondary education; whether attending a mainstream school, special education facility, distance education service, private school or homes schooling ; regardless of colour, race or creed …..are able and are welcome to attend.
The main focus of the Challenge Games, and very importantly so, is fun and participation for all children. There is no other sporting event in Australia that covers all disabilities at the one time and it is held annually in Townsville North Queensland. It is an event where children with a disability : can play games, have fun and compete with other children of their own ability level – without the feeling of being conspicuous or “different”, can meet and make new friends, can let their hair down and scream and yell and barrack for their mates, from where they go back to school proudly displaying the coloured ribbons – pinned on their shirts – one for every event in which they take part, where they can let some more hair down for two hours at the night time disco; and on the third day we all fall down in sighs of exhaustion.
It is a North Queensland event. Schools from the extreme outreaches in all directions of North Queensland – including the great mining city of Mt Isa to the West, Thursday and Palm Islands to the north and east and Mackay and its neighbouring coal field cities to the south come year after year to be part of the fun, and tag the event as part of their school program.
It has become an extremely popular event over the years with students, and also their teachers and parents/carers. The committee who run The Challenge Games is completely voluntary.
The Opening ceremony begins with a march past on the running track by all students in their school groups, with banners flying and brass band music. We have special guest including the Mayor of Townsville and members of the State parliament who have always been very supportive of The Challenge Games. We also invite a special guest each year from a para athlete back ground to encourage the children to dream big. North Queensland professional sporting teams are invited to attend the opening ceremony as well.
There are over 30 different stations set up,covering 20 different activities – for the enjoyment of the 13 different age groups of both boys and girls.
Activities include track races, long jump and shot put and fun things such as frisbee throwing, modified “javelin” throwing, bean bag throwing, ball games, slalom – ( or obstacle course) -for wheelchairs, bocce, soccer, cricket, and relays.
The program also includes formal track and field events in which students can nominate to compete and be officially judged if they have aspirations of competing at the higher levels in the district, state or national championships. And indeed, we have students who have been “discovered” at our Challenge Games and have gone on to the elite athlete status and achieve selection in Australian ParaOlympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championship teams.
Each year an athlete with a disability who has progressed to the elite level is invited to the Games as our special guest. We believe and hope that the children will glean a little inspiration from meeting them. We certainly do.
We hope that the experience of enjoying and learning about the variety of sporting events at our Games will introduce the children to leisure activities and create an awareness of the possibility of them joining community sporting groups to fill their leisure hours – something which will benefit them immensely, especially in their post school years.