All Fanletter

March 2020 Fanletter

Kia ora

It’s so exciting that another year of Special Olympics events are already underway. There’s so much to look forward to in 2020.

This month’s Fanletter covers just some of the awesome things happening in the world of Special Olympics New Zealand:

  • The Young Athletes Programme, which we hope to run all over NZ
  • Some of the highlights of 2019
  • Introducing our new Health Ambassadors, Scot and James
  • Our new Athlete Leaders for 2020
  • Toby Adams refereeing two Court of Dreams basketball games
  • Meeting the National Summer Games logo competition winners

Read on or check out the compact Fanletter.

Update from the CEO: Young Athletes Programme ready for roll out!

By Carolyn Young, Special Olympics New Zealand CEO

Happy New Year! By now everyone will be back in training and looking forward to competitions in 2020. It’s going to be a busy couple of years as we count down towards National Summer Games, and we have lots of exciting opportunities we’ll share with you.

Hopefully you’ve seen the winner of the National Summer Games logo competition and the opportunity to apply to attend the Dream Ride event in Connecticut, USA in August. And there’s lots more to come!

There has been a lot of information in the media about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus overseas. You can also go directly to the Ministry of Health website.

We’ll update our website if there are any changes in the current status.

In December 2019 we completed a successful pilot of the Young Athletes Programme in Wellington.

The pilot focused on tamariki aged 4 – 7 and we had very positive feedback from the families, coaches, and witnessed significant improvement in the capabilities of the young athletes.

Carolyn Young, Special Olympics NZ CEO blowing bubbles during the Young Athletes Pilot Programme.

We were fortunate enough to have Grant Robertson, the Minister of Sport, attend the final session. He was very enthusiastic about the programme and some of you may have seen an article on Stuff or One News about it.

We’ll be running two programmes in South Auckland this year and hope to roll it out New Zealand wide as soon as possible.

The pilot was funded through the IHC Foundation and Sport Wellington. Our goal now is to find a partner that shares our vision to roll it out around the country.

A recap of 2019

There were so many amazing things that happened throughout 2019. We couldn’t possibly cover them all here!

Ka pai (well done) to every one of you for putting your heart into Special Olympics. From training, to events, the National Winter Games, the World Summer Games, and in your everyday lives — you’re all doing amazing things and you should be extremely proud.

Special Olympics New Zealand members received lots of nominations and awards. Here are just a few:

  • Te Huia Appapa has been sponsored by his local running club, Tauranga, to compete in the Disney Half Marathon.
  • Charlotte Aroa was a finalist in the Waikato District Sports Awards 2019 for Sportswoman of the Year.
  • At the Sport Manawatu awards, Libby Shephard and Natasha Nicholson were nominated for Female Disability Athlete of the Year. Matthew Westwood, Braden Kendall and John Jury were nominated for Male Disability Athlete of the Year. Carla L’Huillier, Shona McGahan and Nigel Cash were nominated for Coach of the Year. Mike Ryan and Conrad Ryan were nominated for Official of the Year.
  • Tim Fairhall, Special Olympics Athlete from Waitakere, won the 2019 Attitude Leadership Award. His award was for his work to allow himself and others access to their KiwiSaver before the age of 65. James Wilson and Nigel were also nominated for Attitude Awards.
  • Katie McMillan, also from the Waitakere club, won the 2019 Waitakere Disability Sports Award.
  • Janiece Pollock won the Sport Wellington Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award.
  • Sam Muir-James from Counties Manukau was a finalist in the Counties Manukau Sporting Excellence Awards – Sportsman Category. 
  • The Marlborough Special Olympics club are very proud of their athlete, Tracey Sawyer, who entered and completed the women’s triathlon in Blenheim in December. It was the club’s first time entering and first time for Tracey competing too! Ka pai, Tracey.

Tracey (left) and her coach Jenny Wills after the event.

Introducing our new Health Ambassadors

This year we have a new role for our athletes, called Health Ambassadors. Health Ambassadors will work with some of the Special Olympics staff to spread the word about living a healthy and happy life.

We’re really pleased to announce our first two Health Ambassadors, James Wilson and Scot Jackson

Special Olympics NZ Health Ambassadors, James Wilson (left) and Scot Jackson (right).

James is a powerlifter and swimmer from Auckland, and recently went to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

Scot is a tenpin bowler, who went to his first World Games in 1985!

Both James and Scot want to help others look after their mental health as well as physical health.

Scot often jumps onto Facebook and encourages others to meet up with him to go for a walk if they’re feeling lonely.

Meanwhile James is always keen to share advice on how to be kind to yourself and to others.

You’ll be hearing lots more from James and Scot really soon. They’ll be sharing monthly advice right here in this Fanletter!

You’ll also start hearing from them on our social media, so don’t forget to follow us if you don’t already. We’re on:





Athlete Leaders Class of 2020

Meet this year’s newest Athlete Leaders, Morgan Smith, Shanae Dean, David Sullivan and Chrissa Pearce.

Special Olympics NZ Athlete Leaders, Class of 2020. Morgan Smith, Shanae Dean, David Sullivan and Chrissa Pearce (left to right).

This friendly group traveled to the Special Olympics New Zealand office in Wellington for their first day of leadership training last week.

We’re all really lucky to have them to cheer us all on and are looking forward to seeing them grow their leadership skills throughout the year.

Morgan Smith, Shanae Dean, David Sullivan and Chrissa Pearce (left to right).

Toby Adams referees Court of Dreams basketball games

By Jacqueline Adams, Special Olympics Greenhithe Chair

Special Olympics Athlete, Toby Adams (left) referees Court of Dreams game.

Greenhithe athlete, Toby Adams, has refereed two curtain raiser, “Court of Dreams” games ahead of Sky Sport Breakers NZ home matches at Spark Arena in December and January.

In Toby’s words, it’s been a life-time opportunity and he’s loved every minute of it and is ready to do more! The second game Toby refereed, he was excited to see a fellow Greenhithe athlete, Tyson Frost, taking to the court for the Taupaki school team.

Toby Adams with Sky Sport Breakers General Manager, Simon Edwards (left).

The Greenhithe club have had great support from the NZ Breakers over the years, with players such as Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger, Patrick Richard, Jarrad Weeks and most recently Corey Webster visiting and training with us.

Meet the National Summer Games logo competition winners

Toward the end of February we were very pleased to announce the winners of our National Summer Games logo competition.

There were entries from athletes all over New Zealand. You were all wonderfully creative!

A group of four Special Olympics New Zealand Athletes, Deshan, Sarah, Caitlin and Sarah-Jane won with this logo they designed together:

The winning logo is going to be used across our websites, social media, printed on t-shirts, and more! So our marketing intern, Zoe Braithwaite, helped out by creating some digital versions we can use for everything:

Deshan, Sarah and Caitlin all access the Enrich+ Art House, and Sarah-Jane does art at her college. They decided to work together on a logo. Here they are hanging out together:

Deshan Walallavita, Sarah Griffin, Caitlin Thomas, Sarah-Jane Hudson and Art Facilitator, Theresa Siemonek (left to right).

Deshan, Sarah, Caitlin and Sarah-Jane each came up with a part of the logo. They then combined their ideas. Sarah-Jane said it was nice to work as a team

Get involved!

One of the best things about Special Olympics is that it’s for everyone.

We’re always keen to welcome new athletes and volunteers into our whānau (family).

Are you keen to grow your skills, meet lots of friendly people, and have heaps of fun? Join a club today!

Ma tē wā (bye for now)

Thank you to all our wonderful partners


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