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Following their huge success at the World Special Olympics, NZCT has awarded Special Olympics NZ a major grant of $270,000 to help fund salaries for a number of their roles including the Regional Sports Coordinators to provide programmed sports, activities, and competition for people with an intellectual disability.
Digital Communications Officer Patrick Jones adds -
SONZ is a charitable trust that provides training and competition opportunities for people with an intellectual disability. Students or athletes with ID have often not been included or are not able to participate in mainstream activities due to their disabilities. At Special Olympics, a key value is to ensure that everyone is included and can feel part of something, allowing participants to make friends, have a purpose, and to keep fit and healthy. Without the services that SONZ provide our members would likely continue to be isolated, at home, and unaware of opportunities that may be able to be taken.
SONZ offers thirteen sports across New Zealand with both Special Olympics regional or area clubs and school activities reaching from Invercargill in the South to Keri Keri in the North. Our Regional Sports Coordinators provide unique opportunities to secondary school students while also providing vital support for our clubs to run smoothly and provide a range of inclusive training and competition programmes for the ID community.
Our Regional Sports Coordinators are our frontline workers. They allow Special Olympics New Zealand to connect with people with intellectual disabilities on a daily basis. From facilitating specialised programmes for children with intellectual disabilities in schools throughout New Zealand to providing support to their local clubs and events, our RSCs make it possible for thousands of New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities to experience the benefits of sport and community wherever they are in the country.
Regional Sports Coordinators are especially invaluable to our school's programmes. Many of the athletes who take part in these programmes would not have the opportunity to engage with Special Olympics and the activities specifically tailored to their needs if it were not for the Regional Sports Coordinators getting out into the communities and visiting them in schools.
Special Olympics New Zealand was founded in 1983 and for the past forty years has strived to enrich the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sport and ensure the capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities are visible and valued by New Zealand society. Today the organisation has grown to include forty-two regional clubs and programmes developed in over 140 schools across New Zealand with thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities engaging with Special Olympics activities annually.