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From the CEOs desk

I recently had the privilege of spending a week in Washington with Special Olympics International for a new leader’s orientation. 
My biggest learning was that all Special Olympics programmes have various challenges, and by sharing information we can all become collectively stronger. For example, some programmes shared good ideas on what others can look at to improve their financial stability. Other programmes had cultural issues around getting people with an intellectual disability into the community. 
The takeaway for New Zealand was that as a collective of 45 Clubs and a national organisation we can all be better and stronger if we work together and help each other. At Special Olympics New Zealand we have started a fortnightly staff meeting to share ideas and best practice to ensure that we provide the best support and delivery to our athletes and volunteers. If you have ideas to share or challenges you are looking for solutions to, please get in touch with me and we will see how we can facilitate support and solutions.  
In the meantime thank you for the work that you do and support you provide to athletes with an intellectual disability.

Carolyn Young

Winning schools programme in Wanganui

Sport Whanganui and Special Olympics New Zealand have teamed up to provide a pathway for young athletes into Clubs.
Regional Sports Coordinator Jayden Richards has been working with Sport Whanganui Community Sport Advisor Ross Kinnerley to develop a physical activity programme for Arahunga School’s five satellite units in schools in the Whanganui region. As far as Regional Sports Trusts go, Sport Whanganui believe they are the first to have a programme like this.

“We’ve seen amazing improvements in the six weeks we’ve been running the programme so far. At the beginning not many of the kids could balance on one foot, and now many of them can hop on each leg and have more freedom of movement,” says Sport Whanganui's Ross Kinnerley.
The programme is based on the Special Olympics Fit 5 resources. By developing students’ interest and ability in physical activity they are opening the door for them to join a Special Olympics Club down the track. However, the main focus is to have a sustainable programme in schools so that students with intellectual disabilities will consistently have opportunities to participate in physical activity. The programme takes a holistic approach to their health and well-being which will benefit each individual for years to come.

Read more

Countdown on for World Summer Games

With less than 170 days until the start of the World Summer Games 2019, sport specific camps are now kicking off. The first camp was held on 23-23 September, when the bowling team took part in a two-day Tier One event hosted by Special Olympics Kapiti.
Upcoming camps include powerlifting at the Special Olympics Howick-Pakuranga Tier One event, the Unified mixed 7-a-side Football team participating in the Auckland Tier One event in mid-October, swimming at the Te Awamutu Tier One event at Labour Weekend, and the two-day Hawkes Bay bocce event that same weekend. The athletics team are competing in North Taranaki in late November, and the equestrian riders and basketball players are both holding stand-alone camps over the next couple of months.
Clubs are busy fundraising for their athletes – check out the links to Give a Little pages for some of the athletes on our Meet the Athletes page.
Basketball athlete Grace Payne (Special Olympics Counties) has also  been selected to be part of Special Olympics International Meet the Determined campaign and will be promoted worldwide alongside athletes from around the globe, in the lead up to the Games.

Hawke's Bay committee recognised

Special Olympics Hawkes Bay’s Committee came out tops at Volunteering Hawkes Bay’s Volunteering Excellence Awards 2018, taking home the Governance Award.

The award recognised the Committee’s dedication and committed to governing the organisation effectively and was accepted by Chair Margaret Baker and other members of the Committee.
The Club’s coaches and volunteers were also nominated for the Team Award, and athlete Bridget Talbot was also nominated for the Youth Award for her volunteer work with Riding for the Disabled (RDA).
Well done Hawkes Bay – what a great recognition of your enthusiasm for Special Olympics!

Global Messengers prepare for the big screen

Our Class of 2018 Global Messengers took part in their third workshop on 11 September, focused on preparing them for public speaking opportunities and TV appearances.
The workshop was run by Attitude TV and focused on speechmaking, media skills and prepared the athletes for speaking to politicians at their graduation ceremony later this year.
Shonagh Clarke from Special Olympics Southland said she enjoyed travelling up to Auckland for the workshop, catching up with the group and meeting Attitude TV representatives, who said they were one of the best groups they’d worked with!

“The things I learnt will be good for when I speaking to local groups like schools and to the media. It also helped me to prepare to speak at the graduation if needed,” Shonagh said.

Read more about our Class of 2018

Healthy Communities update 

Our new Clinical Directors 

We're delighted to introduce Dr Simon Barnes, Dr Lucia Painuthara, Dr Jonathan Kok and Dr Nicole Lundon as the new Clinical Directors for Special Smiles and Health Promotion.
Simon is a dentist based in Wellington. He has been a keen volunteer at Special Smiles screenings at the last two National Summer Games. He has worked in both public and private settings and has an interest in promoting dental health in the Special Olympics community.
Lucia is a dentist based in Thames. She recently volunteered for Special Smiles during the last National Summer Games. She is excited about the opportunity to promote and improve oral health outcomes among our athletes.
Jonathan is a doctor based in Palmerston North and has been involved with Special Olympics for several years. He has  served as Medical Services Manager at the recent 2017 National Summer Games and has been team doctor for the World Summer Games. He has an avid interest in improving health outcomes in our athletes and is looking forward to spread the Health Promotion message.
Nicole is a doctor also based in Palmerston North and was the Assistant Medical Services Manager at the 2017 National Summer Games. She is keen to work with Special Olympics to bridge the health inequalities that currently exist.

All of our new Clinical Directors have just returned from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia after completing their training with colleagues from other Special Olympics Asia Pacific countries, and are gearing up to collaborate and deliver their respective programmes. They are looking forward to meeting some of you at their screening events in November 2018 and will hopefully get a chance to meet more of the Special Olympics community over the next few years.

November health events in Auckland and Manawatu


Special Smiles comes to Auckland on Saturday 3 November

With Ken and Roger having retired at the recent National Summer Games in 2017, we are thrilled to have Simon and Lucia taking on the roles of Clinical Directors for Special Smiles. We will be fortunate to also have both Ken and Roger to support Simon and Lucia and look forward to seeing lots of Auckland athletes.
Date: Saturday 3 November 2018                    Venue: Pulman Arena, 90 Walters Road, Takanini
Time: 9am - 3pm                                              Contact:

Health Promotion hits Palmerston North on Saturday 10 November

Geraldine, Jonathan and Nicole are excited to meet athletes from the Manawatu and Horowhenua regions in an educational, interactive and fun filled day of health promotion and wellness. They also extend the invitation to those living in supported accommodation as well as those at home with families. Come along to learn more about how you could achieve better health

Date: Saturday 10 November 2018           Venue: STAR Centre Gym, Palmerston North Hospital 
Time: 9am - 4.30pm 

For details please contact or check out the event on Facebook.

Auckland athletes summit Rangitoto

(l-r) Ella Sharples, Helen Ferguson, Jarod Lutu and Stephen Homfeld

As part of Conservation Week, on 21 September the Sport Auckland team partnered with DOC and Fullers to take around 180 Green Prescription (GRX) and ActivAsian clients to the summit of Rangitoto Island. The bi-annual initiative started in October 2017 to provide the opportunity for Green prescription clients from across Auckland and Counties Manukau to unite and share a unique experience walking the summit track.
This is the first time Special Olympics was involved, with Ella Sharples (Papakura), Jared Lutu (Mangere) Stephen Homfeld (Auckland) and Central Regional Sports Coordinator Helen Ferguson joining the group.
“A gradual climb to the summit that was a nice way to open up the lungs and surround ourselves with nature at the end of a busy week,” Helen said. “What really took my breath away was the contrast in scenery of black scoria rock upon exiting the ferry to the lush green leaves upon reaching the summit. There were a few weary bodies upon arrival to downtown Auckland but the scenery and exercise were worth our efforts.”
A special shout out to Stephen Homfeld from Special Olympics Auckland who even managed to jump back on his bike and ride 15 km home to Henderson! Also thanks to Alice Black for organising the opportunity with Sport Auckland.

South Island basketball bash

The sixth Special Olympics New Zealand Schools Basketball Exchange between was held in Greymouth on 12 September.
The initiative started in 2009 at the National Summer Games in Palmerston North, when three Upper South Island schools (Waimea College, Allenvale School and Papanui High School) hit it off and decided to start an annual exchange (outside of National Summer Games years).

Originally the plan was to alternate the event between Christchurch and Nelson, but it has since expanded to include West Coast schools and has been held in Greymouth and also in Ashburton.
Megan Gare of Allenvale School says the exchanges are an important part of the school’s basketball team that students look forward to.
“While our students love having the basketball competition they also enjoy the social side. Catching up with friends from other schools and making new friends and just having fun! They also get to experience independent living skills and being away from home,” Megan says.
“As coaches/teachers we enjoy the experience and catching up with each other as well as meeting new faces! While it is exhausting and financially challenging it is definitely VERY rewarding.”

Kym's international opportunity 

We’re very excited to announce that Global Messenger and Special Olympics Waikato athlete Kym O’Grady has been invited to be part of the Special Olympics International Global Athlete Congress in the Dominican Republic in November!
Kym will travel to the conference (10-17 November) with her mentor Simon Kokaua. She’ll be part of a group of 50-60 athletes from around the globe who have been selected for the opportunity to raise concerns and propose policy changes. Recommendations will then be made to the Special Olympics International Board.
Kym was selected for the opportunity because of her role as Athlete Representative on the Special Olympics International swimming Sport Rules Advisory Committee. This is a four-year role that sees Kym reviewing sports rules proposals, attending teleconferences and making recommendations on rules from an athlete’s perspective.
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