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December 2021 Fanletter

Hear the latest news from the SONZ community from Our 2022 Athlete Leaders to our Young Athletes programme in Auckland and much more!

Message from the CEO

Carolyn talks about International Day of People with Disabilities and looks back on Special Olympics New Zealand in 2021.

Athlete Leaders of 2022 announced

We are proud to announce the five athletes from across Aotearoa who have been chosen to complete the 2022 Athlete Leadership programme.

New SONZ merch! Facemasks & Kaha Plushies

Our new merchandise store has officially opened with our first two items, SONZ facemasks and Kaha the Kiwi plushies of our mascot!

Young Athletes takes off in Auckland

Our internationally acclaimed sport and play programme for children 2-10 years-old is set to launch in Auckland in 2022.

Our favourite school moments of 2021

Our Regional Sports Coordinators have gathered their favourite touching, funny and heart-warming stories from our 2021 schools programme.

One year to go until National Summer Games, again!

This feels familiar! While we’re preparing to start our one year countdown clock again, we asked our athletes to let us know what they think about having another year to prepare.

Balance is better coaches corner

Our new online education platform has launched with a new training module for coaches, plus an exciting opportunity to complete a new course by Special Olympics International.


Message from the CEO

Carolyn Young CEO

Kei te pēhea koutou? (how are you?) 

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities, the 2021 theme is ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era’. We would love to hear from you on your experience during Covid.  Check out our Facebook post and tell us in the comments about your experience.  We see part of our role with Special Olympics to advocate for people with an intellectual disability and spread the word to ensure that people with an intellectual disability are included and feel respected as part of the wider community. 

2021 has been another year impacted by Covid, most noticeably with the postponement of the Freemasons New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games (Games) to December 2022. The first half of the year saw 60 great club events taking place with over 2400 athletes participating. It was also great to see that 1581 athletes qualified for the Games (with 1135 registered to go) and with the Games delayed there will be more opportunities to qualify, good luck!  

I wanted to acknowledge the significant impact that Covid has had on our Special Olympics whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau. Those of you in Auckland have spent 14 weeks or 107 days locked down at home.  Thank you for everything that you have done to keep us all safe as we move into the ‘Traffic Light System’. I also want to acknowledge that it can be extremely difficult and isolating for those living in residential care, given the strict limits placed on what you can do at level 2, we send aroha to you as well.  

We are working hard to ensure that we can provide information and details around Covid developments with as much certainty as possible. It’s early days for all of us living in the traffic light system and one thing that Covid has taught us, is that we know that things will change.  We understand that change can be frustrating. We are focusing on being clear on what we know and how we can provide opportunities for everyone to still be active and participate in Special Olympics safely. For up-to-date information on our Covid Response view our official Covid-19 Update page.

In 2022 we will see the roll out of the Young Athletes Programme in Auckland. It’s really exciting to have received funding for 12 months; a special thank you to the Potter Masonic Trust and the IHC Foundation for your support.  The rollout has been somewhat delayed due to the lockdown in Auckland but if you get a moment have a look at the updated information on our Young Athletes webpage. If you know anyone who could benefit from being involved in this amazing sport and play programme pass this information on! 

Is it too early to say Meri Kirihimete? It’s our last Fanletter of 2021, so Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope that you have a safe and restful festive season. We have the decorations up in the office and are counting down to the Christmas break. The SONZ office will be closed from 1pm Wednesday 22 December and reopens at 8.30am Monday 17 January allowing all our staff to take a well deserved break. We are all looking forward to relaxing with whānau and friends over the festive season and to be refreshed and ready for a big year ahead which includes the National Summer Games in December 2022. 

Hurihia tō aroaro ki te rā tukuna tō Ätārangi kia taka ki muri ki a koe 

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. 

Bring on 2022! 

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December 2021 Fanletter