Para-vaulting sporting success for Heronsbridge
30 November 2016
A pupil from Heronsbridge School in Bridgend has become the national champion in a sport that combines the power and balance of gymnastics with the elegance of equestrianism.
Sixteen-year-old Josh Johns has won a Welsh title in para-vaulting, which involves performing a range of gymnastic movements while on the back of a moving horse.
Heronsbridge have assembled the only para-vaulting school team in Wales, and their students are doing so well in the sport that Josh recently became the national champ in the para walk individual class, while fellow pupil Jack Garrod came second.
Every week, Heronsbridge take a group of nine pupils to the Talygarn Equestrian Centre near Pontyclun to develop their skills.
Teacher Alana Harries said: “My daughter rides at Talygarn, and the owner and I felt that vaulting would be a great opportunity for pupils with additional needs, so I approached our Headteacher who absolutely loved the idea.
“The students were all a little nervous about the first session, not quite knowing what to expect but that soon diminished and they all now really look forward to it. Every time that they see me in the corridor they ask me, ‘Are we vaulting this week Miss?’
“They have really enjoyed the opportunity and have gained both physically and mentally from their participation. Gymnastics and horsemanship make for a fantastic sport, and para-vaulting provides a lot of what the students need in a fun and challenging way.
“It’s helped them to work on a variety of things including physio, strengthening, flexibility, team work, kindness, following and giving instructions, speech and language therapy, and has given each pupil more confidence too.
“The students’ determination and attitude always takes our breath away, and they are really excelling at para-vaulting. We hope to take more of the team to future competitions next season and, who knows, maybe we can even compete for the British para vaulting title!”
Alana added: “On behalf of everyone at the school, I’d like to thank Chris and Steve Rogers, who own Talygarn Equestrian Centre, and the coaches Sophie Jones and Kim Isidoro for everything they have done with the pupils so far.”
Councillor Huw David, the Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “Well done to all of the pupils at Heronsbridge School on their achievements in para-vaulting so far. Riding a horse is a difficult skill in itself, so to combine that with gymnastics takes real talent.
“Well done also to the staff at Heronsbridge for recognising this unique learning opportunity which is proving to be beneficial to the pupils in so many ways.”