Jane Holmes: Why winning isn't important at schools sports daysBy Jane Holmes
June 29, 2012
Jane Holmes is chief executive of Wokingham-based charity Building for the Future which provides support and activities for disabled children.
She set up the charity after her daughter Kitty was born with severe cerebral palsy.
Sports day has always horrified me. Long before I became a mother and knew anything about disability, I hated it.
I can't stand competition at the best of times, whether it's an acquaintance trying to outdo me or someone taking a game of Scrabble too seriously, it's always left me with an unpleasant taste in my mouth.
So, competition combined with any kind of intense physical exertion, leaves me cold. But since my daughter started school, Sports Day has taken on a whole new meaning.
While she is unable to take part in any kind of the conventional kind of races, my daughter seems to love it. She is unable to run, or walk in fact. She couldn't hold on to a sack properly and even if she could, wouldn't be able to jump in it.
The three-legged race would be a tangled disaster and as for the egg and spoon … omelette anyone?
But she has shown me that Sports Day is about so much more than the competition or being able to show off your physical prowess. It's not about who comes first or who is the best, it's about taking part and most importantly having fun.
Nothing demonstrates this better than Sports Day at a special school and nothing beats the atmosphere.
One year my daughter took part in a ten metre fun run in her walking frame. She was competing against children who were far more able than her and she was the last by a long, long way. After everyone else had finished, she staggered and pushed and gave every ounce of effort to carry on towards the finishing line.
The crowd hushed, no-one sure whether to cheer her on, or to kindly look away. She kept stopping and hesitating the effort causing her whole body to go into spasm. But then, amazingly and to the most rapturous applause, she finally crossed the finishing line.
Her sense of achievement was that of an Olympic gold-medallist. She may have come last in that race, but without a doubt, she was one of the winners that day.