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Helen Brookes

Helen Brookes has been coaching Special Olympics New Zealand basketball athletes since 2005, and she says it has changed her life.

“Special Olympics has also has a great impact on the lives of the athletes I coach. Having been privileged enough to see how much, I spend a lot of time sharing my experiences with anyone who will listen. I always hope the word will spread to those whose lives could also be changed by being involved.

“I believe Kiwis could better understand the importance of the World Summer Games and its international significance.”

Helen’s involvement in basketball has been life-long, as she has grown up playing, coaching and refereeing basketball. However, she says that no-one enjoys the game or is more committed to their sport than Special Olympics athletes.

“I have been to three National Summer Games and a Trans-Tasman tournament and I continue to be involved because our athletes have a passion for the sport that most elite athletes have long forgotten. The celebration at each accomplishment is a reminder to me that we often forget to appreciate the good things in our lives.”

Reflecting on her involvement over the years, Helen says there have been so many special moments there are almost too many to share.

“But one thing we do with our team at the end of each tournament day is we go around the room and talk about our ‘Best of the Day’. This is a chance for everyone to share something positive that they enjoyed and to get to know what others enjoyed as well. This has become an important part of every event and the athletes will always remind me if I ever forget to do it!”

Helen’s aims to focus on teamwork this year as she believes that creating a cohesive team culture is critical because “once the team starts working as one they can achieve anything”.

When she is not volunteering for Special Olympics, Helen manages a busy events centre in Porirua. She is also heavily involved in community events and every Christmas day organises a special lunch at her venue for those people who have nowhere else to celebrate. Juggling her many commitments can be challenging but she credits her supportive colleagues with helping make it easier to manage.

“I’m so lucky to have the people I have in my life; they help make it so much easier to do it all. But even if it is busy it’s easy to make time to do the things that you love.”
What I love about New Zealand Special Olympics:

Is that the athletes love to learn new skills, celebrate what they achieve and are so accepting of everyone who wants to be a part of it.

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