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As the country gears up for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, young people from East Devon will be taking part in their very own festival of sport next week (March 7, 2012).

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Children from Exmouth Community College, Colyton Grammar School, The King’s School at Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth Primary School have qualified for the Devon Winter School Games.

They will be joined in the East Devon teams by children from Cullompton Community College, Uffculme School and The Duchy School, Bradninch.

Nearly 1,500 youngsters from all over the county are coming together in Torbay for the Devon Winter School Games.

Schoolchildren aged between nine and 16 will take part in a day-long event involving eight different activities at Paignton Community and Sports College and Torbay Leisure Centre.

There’ll be 1,230 competitors representing their schools as well as one of seven area teams – North Devon, East Devon, West and South Devon combined, Plymouth, Torbay, Exeter and Mid Devon, and South Dartmoor, which includes Teignbridge.

And around 250 other young people will be on hand to help run the events as officials and event volunteers.

The event is being hosted by the Torbay Sports Partnership and is designed to be as inclusive as possible. Alongside mainstream competitions, there are categories for children with severe and moderate learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural problems and physical disabilities.

The event is the first in a three-year programme which will comprise up to 18 festivals. School and community sport partners from throughout Devon have come together on a local organising committee to oversee the programme and has successfully bid for £320,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The Torbay event will get underway with a colourful opening ceremony at 9:40am in the sports hall at Torbay Leisure Centre. In the style of the Olympics, each school will parade in with flags and banners, the children dressed in different coloured T-shirts to represent their area of the county.

All the participating schools teams have been competing against others in their area over the past few months to qualify for the Devon School Games, which will feature badminton, boccia, cyclo-cross, seven-a-side football, netball, tag rugby, table tennis and volleyball.

Competitions begin at 10:45 and are due to finish between 2:30 and 3:00pm with the final medal presentations and closing ceremony between 3:15 and 3:30pm.

The School Games programme represents a key part of the Government’s aim to provide a meaningful sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This event is designed to support young people to achieve their personal best in sport and in life. With London 2012 fast approaching now is the time to harness the unique power and energy of the world’s greatest sporting event to motivate all young people,” said Hugh Bellamy, Principal of South Dartmoor Community College and Chair of the Local Organising Committee.

Matt Evans, Chief Executive of the County Sports Partnership, Active Devon, commented: “Having led the lottery bid on behalf of the Local Organising Committee, Active Devon is really excited about next week’s event. It will be the ‘starting gun’ for a programme of wonderful opportunities for young people of all abilities throughout Devon and shows what can be achieved when local organisations work closely together.”

As well as the sporting challenges, the county’s secondary schools have been taking part in a cultural competition and their work in the fields of art, music, aesthetic movement, photography and creative media will be showcased at the Paignton Games.

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