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Ben Oaten

19 year old, Ben Oaten from New Plymouth has spent the last 5 years progressively getting involved in swimming with Special Olympics. From regional events around his region to international Trans Tasman event against Australia, participating in multiple races, Ben has committed to a range of swimming styles and thrived through competition and the overall atmosphere and energy everyone expresses at the National and International games.

“One thing I strive to do in this Global messenger role is to decrease the discrimination of people with intellectual disabilities and raise awareness about this, and why we can do the exact same thing as a "Normal Person" but we just have a few challenges that interfere with our information processing ability. I chose this role because of my personal story, as I was discriminated against for being intellectually disabled or as I like to express it as "different" not a "Disability.”

His team and the support and positivity they share together inspires Ben in his swimming. As well as his mentor, Lynda Nichols, who has pushed Ben to be successful and grow in many areas of his life. Ben has developed to challenging his way of thinking, and from this his confidence in leadership skills and influence of others in a positive way has been able to flourish as he has become a 2019 Global Messenger as well as a volunteer Operational Firefighter.

Ben has taken the skills he has learnt as a swimmer and a leader into his volunteering, responding to emergencies such as; medicals, natural disasters, fires, flooding, and more. The appreciation and cherishing of everything in his life is something Ben has been able to learn through this role and given him a different view on life. He also enjoys riding his motorbike and has some big trips planned around New Zealand. He currently studies foundation studies to become a paramedic in New Plymouth, continuing his commitment to his community and leading as example for all young people with differences.

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