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News posted on Friday 23rd August, 2019

Launch of innovative Para Sport Pop Up marks ‘1 year to go’ to Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Para athletes in front of Para Sport Pop Up

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) today launched a new and innovative initiative – the Para Sport Pop Up to mark 1 year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The launch, which went live at the Viaduct, Auckland this morning, saw year 5 and 6 school children from Bayfield School (Auckland) join their Paralympic heroes to be the first in New Zealand to experience the Para Sport Pop Up.

The Para Sport Pop Up will travel around New Zealand over the next 12 months and in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, telling the story of New Zealand’s 50-year Paralympic history, increasing awareness of Para sport and positively influencing community perceptions of disabled people.

The school children, dressed in home-made gold supporters’ costumes in support of their sporting heroes and showing their ‘Spirit of Gold’, helped mark the moment by taking part in a photoshoot with Paralympians Emma Foy (Para cycling), Hannah van Kampen (Para cycling), Anna Grimaldi (Para athletics), William Stedman (Para athletics); and Para athletes Nicole Murray (Para cycling), Anna Taylor (Para cycling), Nick Blincoe (Para cycling), Cody Everson (Wheelchair rugby), Maia Amai-Marshall (Wheelchair rugby), Mii Pepe (Wheelchair basketball, Para va’a).

Following this the school children were excited to learn more about Para sport through displays and video, and to take part in a variety of ‘have a go’ Para Sport experiences including Wheelchair basketball, a stationary hand cycle challenge, vertical jump challenge and a blind football virtual reality experience. They also took the opportunity to leave a special message of support for the New Zealand Paralympic Team and have a photo with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic mascot, Someity.

The blind football VR experience has been developed in consultation with optometrists and Blind Sport New Zealand, to enable the public to experience a variety of visual impairments all while trying to score a football goal. It challenges the players senses as they don their eyeshades, experience complete blindness, listen for the bell in the ball and are guided by the goalie to shoot a goal. Blind football is also known as Football 5-a-side, a Para sport on the competition schedule for Tokyo 2020.

Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said: “We are proud to launch the Para Sport Pop Up today as it signifies a key milestone in the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Pop Up will travel to many cities around New Zealand over the coming 12 months allowing more Kiwis to learn about the incredible legacy of the Paralympic Movement, understand more about the Para sports that our Paralympians will be competing in next year in Tokyo and provide information and resources on local Para sport opportunities.“

She continued: “Development of the virtual reality experience provides a great opportunity for us to engage further Kiwis in Para sport. It was great to have Shooting Para sport athlete Neelam O’Neill take up a new role as the voice over artist in the experience.“

Throughout the country support continued for our Paralympians and Para athletes with over 50 organisations and schools going gold and fundraising to support the New Zealand Paralympic Team to Tokyo 2020. The 4th annual Spirit of Gold Mufti Day has been as popular as ever with many businesses setting up Para sport challenges, creating outstanding gold costume creations and generously donating.

New Zealanders can now also show their support in Tokyo by purchasing tickets to see the New Zealand Paralympic Team in action. PNZ in partnership with The Experience Group has now officially launched the sale of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to all supporters.

The Para Sport Pop Up will now move to New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, alongside PNZ’s Celebration Project community events where PNZ is celebrating New Zealand’s 209 Paralympians by presenting them with their officially ‘numbered’ Paralympic certificate and pin.

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