A new initiative has been launched in New Zealand to enhance participation opportunities for people with disabilities in sports. The Regional Community Para-Sport Pilots program aims to create more inclusive and accessible sporting opportunities for athletes with disabilities across the country.
“Athletics New Zealand is very excited to be a recipient of the Paralympics New Zealand Regional Community Para Sport Pilot across the Gisborne, Northland, and Southland regions in 2023. There has been considerable regional growth in community athletics in recent years. This pilot will enable us to establish a sustainable programme and legacy by working with clubs and centres in these regions. These pilot projects will complement our Disability Inclusion Fund projects.” Said Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive, Peter Pfitzinger.
The Regional Community Para Sport Pilots will benefit the six regions as well as enhance Para sport capability within both national sports organisations. This capability will be the foundation for disabled people participating in the Para sport regularly. Ultimately, PNZ wants to see every disabled person have equal access to participate in sport as their non-disabled peers.
“We want to see more disabled people participating in quality community Para sport, including people who have previously been inactive. We believe the way to do that is to bring together the parties who can make it happen – that’s why this is a co-design involving national sports organisations, their regional organisations or clubs, and Parafeds or similar organisations.” Said PNZ’s Para Sport Community Manager Marianne Loh
“In the short term, the Pilots will increase Para sport capability and capacity. Longer term we look forward to seeing an increased number of regional sports organisations and/or clubs will develop inclusive organisational practices, awareness of diversity and inclusion of disabled athletes.”
The Regional Community Para Sport Pilots will bring together national and regional sports organisations with clubs, Parafeds or similar organisations. The investment will help these organisations collaboratively build new regional community Para sport offerings whilst also enhancing existing opportunities.
The organisations will take a community co-design approach to create fit-for-purpose Pilots. Co-design of the Para athletics pilot is due to start next month, with delivery beginning in October 2023 in Gisborne, Northland, and Southland.