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News posted on Thursday 30th March, 2023

Regional Community Para Sport Pilots to enhance participation opportunities for disabled people

Girl in wheelchair wearing Bay of Plenty top plays table tennis, woman wearing Table Tennis NZ top coaches her

Key points:

  • Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) announces the launch of Regional Community Para Sport Pilots in Para athletics and Para table tennis.
  • 6 NZ regions will benefit from the Pilots through enhanced participation opportunities.
  • The goal of the initiative is more disabled people participating in quality community Para sport, including people who have previously been inactive.
  • The Pilots will last 8 weeks and will leave a legacy of inclusive practices within organisations and clubs.

Disabled people in Gisborne, Northland and Southland will have greater opportunities to participate in Para athletics thanks to a Regional Community Para Sport Pilot funded by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ). Meanwhile a Regional Community Para Sport Pilot in Para table tennis will enhance participation opportunities in the sport in Auckland, Canterbury, and Waikato.

Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive, Peter Pfitzinger explains:

“Athletics New Zealand is very excited to be a recipient of the Paralympics New Zealand Regional Community Para Sport Pilot across the Gisborne, Northland, and Southland regions in 2023. There has been considerable regional growth in community athletics in recent years. This pilot will enable us to establish a sustainable programme and legacy by working with clubs and centres in these regions. These pilot projects will complement our Disability Inclusion Fund projects.”

The Regional Community Para Sport Pilots will benefit the six regions as well as enhance Para sport capability within both national sports organisations. This capability will be the foundation for disabled people participating in the Para sport regularly. Ultimately, PNZ wants to see every disabled person have equal access to participate in sport as their non-disabled peers.

PNZ’s Para Sport Community Manager Marianne Loh explains:

“We want to see more disabled people participating in quality community Para sport, including people who have previously been inactive. We believe the way to do that is to bring together the parties who can make it happen – that’s why this is a co-design involving national sports organisations, their regional organisations or clubs, and Parafeds or similar organisations.

“In the short term, the Pilots will increase Para sport capability and capacity. Longer term we look forward to seeing an increased number of regional sports organisations and/or clubs will develop inclusive organisational practices, awareness of diversity and inclusion of disabled athletes.”

The Regional Community Para Sport Pilots will bring together national and regional sports organisations with clubs, Parafeds or similar organisations. The investment will help these organisations collaboratively build new regional community Para sport offerings whilst also enhancing existing opportunities.

The organisations will take a community co-design approach to create fit-for-purpose Pilots. Co-design of the Para athletics pilot is due to start next month, with delivery beginning in October 2023 in Gisborne, Northland, and Southland.

Co-design of the Para table tennis pilot will commence by end July, with delivery beginning in the second quarter of 2024 in Auckland, Canterbury, and Waikato regions. Both pilots will be delivered over an 8-week period.

PNZ’s Chief Executive Fiona Allan said:

“PNZ is pleased by the level of interest within the community to stage Regional Community Para Sport Pilots. The demand for these Pilot programmes illustrates that there is further opportunity and aspiration to grow Para sport throughout New Zealand. With this funding, we will see a real change in the quality of Para sport opportunities which are available and promoted to disabled people and their families. Lives are transformed by Para sport, whether that’s at the Paralympic Games or through participation at the local table tennis club, athletics club or regional Parafed or other similar organisation. These pilots are a critical step to assist in growing sustainable Para sport programmes.”

Table Tennis New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer Warren Ogilvie added:

“Table Tennis New Zealand is delighted that PNZ has agreed to partner with us. Table tennis is a great sport for disabled participants; it is a sport for all, for life. It is the strategy of Table Tennis New Zealand to be inclusive – to provide opportunities for everyone involved in our sport to excel and achieve their personal goals. This new partnership with PNZ will improve the capability of table tennis organisations with knowledge sharing and increased resource provision to enhance opportunities for disabled participants.”

The Para athletics and Para table tennis Pilots follow an earlier Regional Community Para Sport Pilot for Boccia which was co-designed and developed in late 2022 and early 2023. This Boccia Pilot takes place in Hawkes Bay, Manawatū and Taranaki regions starting in May 2023. It includes a 6-week programme and Activator Resource developed as part of the co-design work. (See also Boccia NZ.)

All three Pilots are supported by Sport New Zealand through its national Strengthen and Adapt programme.

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