People who are intellectually disabled yearn to live among the wider community. But in order to do so they must face intolerance, prejudice and fear.
Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 30 August, Kathy Gibson, Chair of Special Olympics NZ, spoke passionately and fluently about the significant progress that is being made to integrate intellectually handicapped people into society generally. “We are doing this by promoting the idea of sport for the intellectually disabled, because we know that this enables them to express themselves, have fun, become more independent, and improve their health and wellbeing.”
Special Olympics NZ has over 9000 members from 40 clubs participating in 14 different sports. “Through sport our members develop friendships, gain self-respect, and learn the benefit of personal achievement. We run over 200 events in NZ every year. Our membership is growing by about 8% per year. Our athletes range in age from 5 through to 86. The older ones like to play bowls and they are amazingly competitive.”
Intellectual disability had a number of causes ranging from down-syndrome and autism to brain injuries, learning disorders, and issues caused by parents abusing drugs and alcohol. Special Olympics NZ caters for all comers. “A new group which is emerging is what we call ‘families in denial’, where a family member is intellectually handicapped but the family is doing nothing about it.”
Auckland presented a new challenge for SONZ in that the ethnic mix was rapidly changing. “We need to engage with people from different cultures, for example Chinese and Indian, who have different ways of dealing with intellectual disability, and find ways to help them that are acceptable within their own culture.”
Also speaking at the meeting was Vicki Brown, who is intellectually disabled and has been a member of SONZ for 30 years. She proudly displayed gold and silver medals she had won through competing at Special Olympic events overseas. “I have made many wonderful friends and it is always a real thrill to represent New Zealand at these events.” Vicki is an example of someone who has integrated into mainstream society. She owns her own home and is self-supporting.
To ensure their sporting competitions were as fair as possible, Kathy explained that Special Olympics organisations around the world divided each sport into several divisions, so that athletes of similar ability could play against each other within their own division. “That way, every athlete has the chance to excel in a competition among people of their own ability. In fact, sometimes our athletes compete against mainstream athletes of similar ability, and they do very well in that environment.”
SONZ plans to run a major event next year, the National Summer Games which will be held over 5 days in and around the Hutt Valley during the last week of November 2017.
Special Olympics NZ is funded by a mix of Government grants, corporate sponsorship, and donations. To find out more please visit www.specialolympics.org.nz
Come to the movies with Inner Wheel
Inner Wheel are fundraising for Heart Kidds NZ on Thursday 29 September. Come to the Light House, Pauatahanui at 5.15 for 6.00 pm. Tickets are $25 each. You can make payment directly into the Inner Wheel account: 12 3254 0081449 01, stating 'your name' and 'film' and notify Yvonne Thomas or Brenda Callear. Here's the flyer. Bridget_Joness_Baby_Flyer
Next week - two treats in store
Before dinner, our own International Exchange Student, Laurie Boytard, will give us a photo display and tell us a bit about herself, her family and France. After dinner, our guest speaker Jack Davies, a student at Samuel Marsen Collegiate School, will talk to us about his passion of rocket building. Partners and guests, and their children and grandchildren, are welcome to the meeting. Please tell President Peter about numbers of additional children,
Wendy Betteridge advised that the final net income from this superb event was $8276.29!
Mary Potter Hospice tell us that they have a lot happening over the next few months and they are inviting us to enjoy some of the activities. There's the Charity week from 5-11 September, the Spring Sale from 8-17 September, a cookbook launch by Paper Plus North City at Pataka from 6.00-7.30 pm on 6 September, and more. Check out their website for if you want to contact them for more details.
Te Ara Piko Working Bee
This will be on Saturday September 24th from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm. More details will follow closer to the time but you can put your name on the board that's being circulated at the next few meetings.
Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust
If you go to the Our Porirua site where community events can be loaded, you'll see details about the next concert being run by this wonderful Trust on 15 October in the Aotea College Auditorium. Or you can click on this link (just to make it easier for you). In addition to all the details that are set out there, you can also download the flyer for the event which will show you where to get your tickets. Toloa Faraimo (shown here) will be one of the musicians.
The August E-Newsletter has just gone out. In it you'll find lots of information about the community we serve. And it's yet another reminder that our own website is part of a much larger family that keeps us in touch with what's going on outside Rotary.