Olwyn is one of two Unified partners travelling with our bocce team to Los Angeles. This is the first time Special Olympics New Zealand has sent a team to compete at an international level that includes Unified partners that will compete alongside other athletes in Unified Sports.
Special Olympics New Zealand has a number of athletes who train and compete with mainstream clubs as well as Special Olympics New Zealand clubs (primarily in basketball, athletics, aquatics and now bocce).
Unified Sports creates more opportunities for athletes to train and compete alongside people who don’t have an intellectual disability. Athletes feel a sense of belonging when participating; they can meaningfully interact with others, develop mutually rewarding relationships, are recognized as contributors and are received with acceptance and respect.
Olwyn first became involved with Special Olympics in 1998 after moving to Matamata from Auckland, this was her first introduction to Special Olympics via a friend, together they went on to set up local Club, Special Olympics Matamata (which subsequently closed in 2005) The Club took a team to the North Island Games and the National Summer Games in Christchurch. From this time Olwyn was hooked and hasn’t looked back.
Olwyn has remained involved with Special Olympics in a variety of roles, including volunteering for Special Olympics New Zealand during the National Summer Games in Auckland as accommodation coordinator, volunteer events coordinator for Special Olympics Manukau as well as one of their basketball and athletics coach and a committee member. After moving to Palmerston North Olwyn joined Special Olympics Manawatu as a basketball and athletics coach and serving on their committee.
Olwyn has attended an impressive four National Summer Games in Auckland, Christchurch, Palmerston North and most recently Dunedin where she made the move from basketball and athletics to bocce.
Olwyn has worked with special needs students in primary, intermediate and secondary schools for 24 years, and now works in Learning Support at Awatapu College with Year 9 students, specialising in students with ASD.
A love of travel and family living overseas has meant Olwyn spends a lot of time travelling, most recently to Cyprus and the UK for a seven week journey to visit her two daughters, son-in-law and two grandsons. She also has three daughters, a son-in-law, five grandchildren and her dad living in Auckland meaning frequent trips up the North Island.
Olwyn is extremely excited to be going to the Games in 2015, she has a wonderful relationship with Monique McEwen after both being involved in basketball and athletics and now competing together in bocce. She is looking forward to the competition and also experiencing such a large event and meeting new people.