• Sport Hawke’s Bay looks to grow participation opportunities for disabled community

Sport Hawke’s Bay looks to grow participation opportunities for disabled community

More disability and inclusion friendly recreational facilities and events are a key focus of the regional strategy led by Sport Hawke’s Bay.

Sport Hawke’s Bay has launched the second year of the Disability and Inclusion Plan, which aims to have three new sport events offering opportunities for the disabled along with a 50 percent increase in opportunities for disabled people through unified sport or full inclusive opportunities.

Sport Hawke’s Bay’s Disability and Inclusion Advisor, Blanche Paewai-Ashcroft, says it is important to continue the momentum of the inaugural strategy which gained national recognition.

“We have set the standard nationally for creating opportunities for disabled people to participate in sport and recreational pursuits and breaking down any barriers. As a result, we have seen a 25 percent increase in opportunities for the disabled community.”

Blanche says there are many examples such as partnering Fairhaven School with Hawke’s Bay Rowing to developing a rowing skills programme through to advocating to Council’s in ensuring facilities are accessible for all.

She says Sport Hawke’s Bay has been able to provide input into the upgrade of Nelly Jull Park in Waipawa, providing an audit that takes into consideration entrance ways, car parking as well as accessible and inclusive playground equipment.

“It is important that we provide accessible and inclusive opportunities for everyone in the community. We have been able to provide strong input into the redevelopment of Nelly Jull Park that provides positive experiences for the disabled community.

“We want to work with regional and national partners to identify and create a set of building standards that can be used when Councils upgrade, build new, or alter any playgrounds, buildings and active recreation facilities within the region”.

Another successful outcome of the previous strategy was the investment in an All-Terrain wheelchair which has been used by a student from Omakere School with cerebral palsy that participated in a six hour hike to Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Forest Park. 

With year 2 of the strategy underway, Sport Hawke’s Bay have been able to work with one of Hawke’s Bay’s largest events for young people, the Mitre10 Tough Kids event being held at the Mitre10 Sports Park on May 11-12. In an exciting development, the event will offer a category for students   from Fairhaven, Kowhai School, Hawke’s Bay Special School as well as disabled students from mainstream schools participating.

Blanche hopes to have an inclusive category in next year’s Weetbix Tryathlon and is also working closely with some of the major sport codes including rugby union, netball, basketball, and football to create inclusive opportunities.

For more information visit www.sporthb.co.nz or contact Blanche from Sport Hawke’s Bay.