In this Guide:
Quick Guide to the Paralympics
Top 10 Family Activities
Where to Watch – Free
Where to Watch – Big Screens
Less than 24 hours to go until the Paralympics Opening Ceremony! Are you feeling the buzz?
After a brief lull following the Olympic Games, London’s about to crank it up with another 10 days of sporting magic.
It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since we were cheering on wheelchair basketball players and spotting the likes of Beijing gold medallist swimmer Ellie Simmonds (MBE) at the Sainsbury’s Super Saturday event on Clapham Common.
The Paralympic Games are even more breathtaking because of the hurdles these athletes have already overcome.
With breakthrough athletes like Oscar Pistorius (aka Blade Runner) taking centre stage, it’s like a new cast of super heroes have landed and my boys especially can’t wait to catch the action.
Many of the family-friendly cultural activities that were happening in sync with the Olympic Games are still going on, so do check out our original London 2012 with Kids guide.
And here’s our pick of the best of London Paralympic Games for kids and families.
Quick Guide to the Paralympics
Created in 1948, the Paralympic Games are marked by the Agitos symbol representing ‘spirit in motion’. Team GB finished 2nd on the medals table in Beijing in the Paralympics, so our medal hopes are high.
Cheer on the likes of Ellie Simmonds (swimming), Hannah Cockroft (athletics), David Smith (boccia), Tom Aggar (rowing) and Sam Ingram (judo). Find a full listing and bios of Paralympic Athletes on Channel 4’s web site.
Some sports are easily adapted for disabled athletes e.g. Wheelchair Table Tennis, Sitting Volleyball and Sailing while others are a combination of different sports.
Completely unique to the Paralympics, Goalball pits visually impaired players against each other in a fast-rolling game with a bell-ringing ball, while Boccia, a target sport similar to boules or petanque, played by teams with cerebral palsy and related conditions.
Other hot tickets at the Paralympic Games include:
Wheelchair Rugby (blends elements of basketball, handball and hockey)
5-a-side Football featuring visually impaired players, wearing masks to ensure fairness (the ball contains a noise-making device) and 7-a-side Football for players with cerebral palsy
132 blind/visually impaired athletes will compete at ExCel in Judo, the only Paralympic martial art.
And of course the largest turnout is for Athletics at the Olympic Stadium, showcasing the amazing skills of sportsmen with visual or cerebral impairment, in wheelchairs or throwing frames, with prostheses or sighted guides.
See a full breakdown of all the Paralympic Sports and how they’re classified to ensure fair competition at the London 2012 web site.
TOP 10 FAMILY ACTIVITIES DURING PARALYMPICS 2012
1. Follow the Paralympic Torch Relay which leaves Stoke Mandeville at 8pm tonight (Tue Aug 28) on its journey to the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday
2. There’s a Paralympic Sports Day in Brent (for ages 8-14), from 10am following the torch relay procession through the borough on Aug 29
3. Enjoy 4 days of free Paralympic Sports at Hackney Downs Park, E5 for all abilities on Aug 30-Sep 2
4. Explore Design Stories: the Architecture behind 2012 and watch live Paralympic Games on screens at the exhibition from 10am-5pm daily (except Sundays) at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, W1 (Oxford St tube) (through Sep 9)
5. Don’t miss Unlimited, the Southbank Centre’s groundbreaking arts and cultural festival challenging our preconceptions of deaf and disabled people. Daily events, many FREE (Aug 29-Sep 9)
6. Mayor of London presents Liberty Festival, the 10th anniversary of the festival celebrating the best of deaf and disabled arts and performance with FREE shows and activities at BFI Southbank, Inside Out National Theatre, Southbank Centre, and Live Sites at Trafalgar Square and Potters Fields (Sep 1-3)
7. Take the family to the Closing Ceremony at Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch (Hoxton overground), a day of crafts, music and dance celebrating the end of the amazing Stories of the World: London exhibition. 11am-4pm, FREE (Sep 8)
8. The Mayor’s Thames Festival offers free arts and activities for families around the Riverside and culminates in a spectacular fireworks finale on the river, on the last day of the Paralympic Games. (Sep 8-9)
9. Hear a record-breaking Bandstand Marathon as 500 community acts play FREE stages around London and the UK from 1-5pm, as part of the finale of Festival 2012 (Sep 9)
10. Catch the Team GB Parade, starting 1.30pm from Mansion House, with 800 Olympic and Paralympic athletes on 21 floats heading through London to The Mall (Sep 10)
WHERE TO WATCH PARALYMPIC GAMES (FREE)
Paralympic Marathon (Sep 9) – Men’s Race starts 8am, Women’s Race starts 11.30am
Paralympic Marathon starts and begins at the Mall, which is only accessible to ticket holders. However, vast stretches of the marathon route along several London landmarks are free to spectators. Arrive early to gain a good spot. Check out a road map for the Paralympic Marathon
Paralympic Road Cycling – Time Trial (Sep 5, 10.30am) and Road Races (Sep 6-8, 10.30am)
Further afield, the Road Cycling events start and end in the ticketed area Brands Hatch, but much of the route is free for spectators around Kent County and Sevenoaks. Here’s the Paralympic Cycling Route Map for those planning to visit.
WHERE TO WATCH PARALYMPIC GAMES (BIG SCREENS)
BT Live Trafalgar Square, WC1 (Charing Cross tube)
Giant screens showing all the sports combine with a bubbly atmosphere, live music and performances, medallists appearances and a chance to try Have-a-Go Paralympic Sports for all abilities. Daily 11am-10pm, first come first served. (Aug 29-Sep 9)
Broadgate Circle, EC1 (Liverpool St tube) will screen the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics along with more action throughout the entire games from Aug 29-Sep 9
Newham LIVE offers big screens, sports participation area and kids zone daily (11am-11pm) in Stratford Park in East Ham, E16 and Central Park in West Ham, E6 (Aug 29-Sep 9, weekends only plus Opening and Closing Ceremony)
Potters Fields Big Screen, SE1 (London Bridge tube) was hugely popular during the Olympics and reopens for the Paralympic Games. Bring your own picnic and enjoy a festival atmosphere. No Opening Ceremony screening! Daily 11am-11pm, FREE (Aug 29-Sep 9)
Hammersmith Big Screen in Lyric Square (Hammersmith tube) is showing the Opening Ceremony (8.30pm-12am) and all the Paralympic action from (Aug 29-Sep 9)
Don’t have tickets? You can still make a day trip of going to the Olympic Park and watching the Paralympic Games on the FREE Big Screens atPark Live outside the stadium. Check the web site for tickets at £5 adult and £1 child.
Play Blind Football and find out more about the athletes on official partner Sainsbury’s Paralympic Games site
Watch all the Paralympic Games on Channel 4