The sixteenth year of the annual intermediate school sports tournament, known as the AIMS Games, has officially begun.
More than 11,000 10-13-year-olds are attending this years event in Tauranga.
The size, calling for the opening ceremony to be repeated twice.
This year is the third time para-athletes have been involved with the AIMS Games, with a record 20 disabled students in attendance.
There were 15 at last years games and 13 in 2017.
Despite it being a dreary Bay of Plenty day, 14 para-athletes turned out to the first event today, cross country.
Eleven-year-old Toby Ireland flew in from Wellington to run in the para category.
He has a visual impairment, taking to the track with his Dad running beside him.
“I can see black and white and sometimes I can see the sun,” he said.
“I can see a few things but not as much as everyone else."
Year 8 student Josh Rae from Christchurch has cerebral palsy and competed in both cross country and table tennis today.
He said it took perseverance to complete the race, adding “one leg’s really sore so I just wanted to stop but I didn't”.
Tournament Director Vicki Semple said, “It's just the proudest moment to have para athletes at the AIMS games”.
Former Paralympian and volunteer for Parafed, Jo Jackson, said “I've got goosebumps watching them, it's so good they can be included”.
She hopes the involvement of disabled kids in events like the AIMS Games will help raise awareness.
The tournament is on until the end of the week.