Posted on Monday 15th March, 2021

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) and its community partner ACC have announced the first Get Started in Para Sport online event. Over two days, kiwis will have a chance to discover a variety of Para sports, interact with Paralympians, Para athletes and Para sport experts, and get connected with Para sports in their region. The free and accessible event is on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 May.

Fiona Allan (CE, PNZ) said: “We are really excited about the opportunity to deliver information and valuable content for anyone who would like to explore Para sport opportunities within New Zealand. The online event allows future Para athletes, their families and support networks from all around the country to join the sessions and hear from experienced Para athletes and Paralympians.”

She continued: “PNZ and ACC have previously run in person Open Days throughout the country that have provided “have-a-go” Para sport experiences. Thousands of people attended, with many going on to participate in Para sport. This two-day online event is a great evolution of these open days in our changing COVID environment.” 

Para athlete Bailley Unahi developed a love of Para sport following an injury in 2016.

While a student at the University of Otago, Unahi and her rugby teammates dropped into an outdoor gig by local band Six60. She sustained a spinal cord injury when the balcony she was standing under collapsed.

Unahi says: “I used to play rugby, netball, basketball and touch before the accident. For me sport was always a big part of being social, being fit, and it was big part of growing up and my identity. And that kind of got taken away from me. It was a big shock because I couldn’t really play the sports I used to play. Para alpine skiing has helped me get that side of my life back.”

Unahi is now a member of the high-performance development programme with Snow Sports NZ. She is up on Cardrona ski field three days a week with a coach and working out at the programme’s Wanaka gym.

She says her goal is to one day represent New Zealand at the Paralympic Winter Games. It is a long way from her first sit-skiing lesson in 2017 after she was invited by regional organisation Parafed Otago to give it a go. She chuckles while recalling that in the beginning, she fell over a lot.

“I would encourage all New Zealanders with disabilities to make the time to join the Get Started in Para Sport online event to find out more about Para sport. By getting involved in Para sport you will meet some great people and enjoy the benefits of being active.”

Scott Pickering (CEO, ACC) said: “Through our work with clients like Bailley, who have had life-changing serious injuries, we see how important Para sport can be in their rehabilitation, both physically and socially, and helping them get back into their community. The Get Started in Para Sport event will be a great opportunity for everyone to learn about Para sport. We’re proud to be supporting an event that could inspire someone and change their life for the better.”

The Get Started in Para Sport online event will include experiences from Para athletes, Paralympians, coaches, and experts; information about a range of Para sports; opportunities to interact with speakers through Q&A sessions. Registrations will open on Tuesday 6 April 2021 along with the release of the full two-day programme.

PNZ and ACC have developed and will be jointly staging the event, with PNZ members including regional Parafed organisations and National Sports Organisations contributing to the event programme.

To keep up to date on all the developments please register your interest by following the Get Started in Para Sport with ACC and PNZ Facebook events for Thursday 6 May and Friday 7 May.