My parents and I went on the plane from Christchurch to Auckland to go to see Adam Lambert and Queen. We stayed in an apartment and I had a room all to myself with a TV in it as well. Before we went to the concert we went into the restaurant for dinner and I had a burger for my meal.

Rochelle at the Queen Concert

After that we walked to the Spark Arena to see the concert and it was amazing with all the special effects and I sang and danced all night. Adam Lambert was very good at the concert. He sang the Queen songs brilliant and Queen were really good as well. I had the best experience at the concert because it was fun and I really enjoyed it and I knew all the songs.

From
Rochelle Waters

Fifteen models with intellectual disabilities walked the catwalk at New Zealand Fashion Week recently as part of The Living Colour show, celebrating diversity.

They wore local designers from Zambesi to Kate Sylvester in New Zealand’s biggest showcase.

“I’m very excited,” one model told One News.

“I feel nervous I guess about catwalking but I am relaxing now,” another said.

After the show, there was a dance party for three hundred guests.

The show was organised by Dance For Abilities which is a not-for-profit organisation set up to give people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to have a night out.

Founders Jonathan and Daniel Hopkirk were inspired by their sister Rosa, who was born with Down syndrome.

“We’d often go out, where there was often that barrier for her where that didn’t happen. So effectively this kind of creates that opportunity for people like Rosa to experience what we experience on a day to day basis,” Daniel said.

“Missy Boo, as her nickname is, or Rosa… we basically think she’s the Queen of sass so she runs the cutter at home. She keeps us honest,” Jonathan says.

Designers have welcomed the show to the fashion world.

Brittany Cosgrove from Nope Sisters Clothing says the show is usually known as not being very inclusive.

“It’s sort of known for being very exclusive and high-end… so it’s really good to see some actual changes being made.”

“It just knocks down a lot of barriers and a lot of walls to people’s perspectives on what they think disability might be,” Daniel added.

Copyright: TVNZ

Our family headed off grid and went to the exotic island of Niue. What we found was a simple island with charm but also challenges.

Niue came with the expected sunshine, warm temperatures and locals with hearts of gold.

We enjoyed the music, culture, the glistening warm sea and striking beauty, along with the lack of wifi and limited shopping. What a treat for an autumn holiday getaway.

However, Niue is isolated. Just two flights travel to Niue each week and only one container ship berths in Niue each month, weather permitting. Everything from food to fuel comes in either by air or sea. When supplies run out, then you do without.

Niue is a coral atoll so you have to dress to protect yourself. Have you ever walked over sharp coral (in flippers), or snorkelled between gagged rocks and caves? Any coral cuts need to be treated seriously or infection sets in.

The coast is surrounded by steep cliffs so you have to be daring and dive or jump from great heights to reach the warm seas.

The sea is tidal so you can be sucked out to sea or thrown up on the sharp rocks.

The ocean is full of wonderful sea creatures including dolphins, turtles and whales but when you snorkel you also swim amongst sharks and sea snakes.

Luka took it all in his stride. He spent the majority of his holiday under water. He jumped off cliffs, clambered over sharp coral outcrops and swam through caves often surrounded by curious sea snakes. Despite his fear of these,  he snorkelled for hours and then took on the ultimate challenge – Scuba diving.

Luka, Kirah (Luka’s sister), and Eric did a morning of Scuba diving training. They learnt how to use the diving apparatus (tanks, mouthpiece), equalise their ears, practised diving sign language which was a breeze for Luka and then tested it all out in the pool. The instructors had a wonderful approach. Within their strict safety guidelines, they let Luka set his own limits.

By afternoon they put it all together and did a reef dive out at sea. Amazing.

I have to say I had to hold back my panic. So much could go wrong and that included drowning. However, both Luka and Kirah revelled in the beautiful underwater world. They dived deep and long and came up smiling.

This moment reminded me that many outdoor challenges can give children positive feelings of self-worth and pride that they can’t always find elsewhere.

Now I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Luka takes on the charms and challenges of Niue

Thanks,
Angelique van der Velden

By Dan Tucker

Hi my name is Dan. I am 25 years old.

On 18 January this year, I died for the first time. I gave my family a very big scare.

Dan Tucker

While I was still in hospital one of my sisters asked Mum if she would get the Lucky Few Tattoo. She also asked my other sister.

When they decided to go and get one done after I was out of hospital, I asked if I could have one too. So we all went together and got them done.

I was very brave and it didn’t hurt too much.

Getting the tattoo is my greatest thing ever because other people need to believe in themselves.

The three chevrons mean love heart and soul.

I have a loving mother and family who do care about me.

Here is a photo of our tattoos.

Dan Tucker has congenital heart condition and his heart stopped earlier this year.

 

 

By David Skipworth

Not many people would get away with interrupting Warriors coach Stephen Kearney while he’s delivering a team talk.

Fewer still would dare to continue to speak over the top of the notoriously stern former Kiwis back rower and World Cup winning coach.

But Mark Dekker – or ‘Mark Carter’ as he prefers to be known – is the exception to the rule, and the one person guaranteed to turn Kearney’s frown upside down.

The 31-year-old with down syndrome began working with the Warriors football staff earlier this season and has been welcomed into the club’s inner sanctum in his role as the team’s official water runner.

The longtime Warriors supporter enjoys exclusive access to the players and is regularly included in their team huddles, joining in their breathing exercises and sharing a few motivational words in the lead-up to game day.

He picks and chooses his moments to speak and feels comfortable enough to interject – even if Kearney is delivering a fierce verbal spray to his players.

“We might be getting a growling and Mark will just walk into the huddle and stand under Mooks’ arm or start talking over someone,” explained front-rower James Gavet.

“Everyone will be grinning and you glance over at Mooks and even he’ll give us a look that says, ‘I really want to be angry but I can’t right now’.

“It’s usually all business and there’s not a lot of time to joke around, but Mark brings out a different side and can lighten the mood.”

Mark Dekker in his role with the Warriors. Photo / Greg Bowker

Dekker’s connection with the Warriors began earlier this year when Kiwi Ferns playmaker and club community relations coordinator, Georgia Hale, offered him the opportunity to get involved.

Twice a week, rain, hail or shine, Carter and his caregiver, Leighton Swann, can be found at Mt Smart Stadium, helping Warriors team manager Laurie Hale prepare water bottles and equipment at training.

The club issued Dekker with his own timesheet that he fills out after each shift and his contribution to the club gives him enjoyment and adds some structure to his week.

“He comes into most sessions so he’s got a bit of a presence amongst the group and staff,” said Kearney.

“He helps fill the water bottles and the boys have embraced him. He does a pretty good job.”

Prior to the Warriors’ round three win over Canberra, Dekker was invited to share a few words in the team huddle, when he borrowed a line from Kiwi social media star William Waiirua: “Do the mahi, get the treats.”

“The boys were all buzzing and came and told us what he’d said,” explained Swann.

“Stephen came over afterwards and gave Mark a big hug and said ‘I think we’ll stick with that saying for the season’.

“Everyone at the club has taken to Mark and shown him a lot of love. I’ve got a lot of time for the Hale family, they’ve got big hearts and Lozza needs to be commended for what he does with Mark.

“It’s so awesome to see the genuine care and love they have for him and whanau environment they have created.”

While most Warriors fans would nominate club icons such as Stacey Jones, Manu Vatuvei, or star halfback Shaun Johnson as their favourite player, Dekker is taken by Mark Carter – the former All Black who switched codes to play just eight games for the club back in 1996.

“That’s the name that he associates with and Carter’s Warriors number was 31,” explained Swann.

“Every time he goes into the sheds he shows the boys number 31 and the name Mark Carter.

“It might not be the most popular choice but its Mark’s choice and he likes the name as well.”

Dekker is particularly close with Gavet, along with wing Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and ISP centre Junior Pauga, but has won the entire club over through his infectious sense of humour, positivity and work ethic.

Mark Dekker greets Warriors forward James Gavet. Photo / Greg Bowker

“They’re a good team,” said Dekker. “Rugby league is a great game and they are my good mates. It’s awesome.

“We work hard but when you do the mahi, you get the treats.”

Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck says Dekker’s presence helps keep the players grounded and serves as a reminder of how the club can help people out in the community.

“It just puts things in perspective having him here,” said Tuivasa-Sheck.

“He’s a big supporter of the club and no matter what happens or goes on he always turns up with a smile on his face which keeps the boys happy.”

 

Mark Dekker who was born with Down syndrome is regularly helping the NZ Warriors NRL rugby league team at training sessions at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. 9 June 2018 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Greg Bowker.

Mark Dekker in his role with the Warriors. Photo / Greg Bowker

Copyright: New Zealand Herald.

Where do you work?
McDonalds Sydenham in Christchurch

How long have you been there?
2 years

How many days a week do you work?
Two days, Monday and Tuesday.

What hours do you work?
I start at 11am til 2pm, so three hours.

How do you get to work?
I bike or bus to work

How did you get the job?
Through Roger Walker and Tracy Jane from Skillwise.

What are your duties?
I clean the bathrooms and trays. I put the dishes away into the sink and I do the vacuuming in the playground and I also sweep the floors and I wipe the tables.

By Kaye Young

The Vaughan Park Retreat Centre is a wonderful, peaceful place set above Long Bay Beach  in Auckland, nestled into rolling hills with views across bush and towards the beach. The accommodation and food was generous and excellent and it was wonderful to meet other parents who also have a very high needs son/daughter.

My son James is 23 years old has Down syndrome, Autism, Coeliac disease and is non-verbal so it is not often one meets another family whose child has the same diagnosis. For me it was lovely to be in a place where my son was not the most developmentally delayed. I was pampered and my son coped pretty well with all the changes starting with the plane flight, travel in a shuttle van, new peers, food and accommodation. Having head phones on so he could listen to his music helped a lot. When James was asked to do the rock climbing, abseiling and archery he would not participate despite the best efforts of Coen and Glen but I had not allowed James to wear his headphones. The next day he wore his headphones and did wonderful art work for 2 hours. I was amazed and now with the benefit of hindsight how many other things would he do if he could relax listening to his music while doing the activity! So both James and I learnt new things and I loved the company of other Mums/Dads who have children with similar challenges.

Thank you to Zandra and the NZDSA for organising such a great event and if it could be held again for parents with very high needs children with Down syndrome that would be fabulous!

By Coen Lammers

Eight young people from all corners of New Zealand last month enjoyed a weekend of adventure, camaraderie, arts, dancing and of course plenty of finger-licking food at the NZDSA Youth Development Camp. The young adults ranging from 18 to 32 years old were invited by the NZDSA to attend the annual at the Vaughan Park in Long Bay, north of Auckland.

NZDSA Youth Camp

The venue provided a stunning beach-side backdrop and was situated right next to the Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MREC) where the guests took part in a host of adrenaline-filled activities and where they were asked to get out of their comfort zones.

For many of the participants, the airplane ride into Auckland already provided a highlight in itself. Aside from Melissa Hoffman and Emily Leech, who only had to drive over the Harbour Bridge, the other guests flew in from far and wide. Katie Beamish from Dunedin and Invercargill’s Jacqie Glew represented the deep south, with James Young from Christchurch making up the South Island crew. Brendon Porthouse flew in from Otaki on the Kapati Coast, along with his old friend Harry Elsworth, while David Gunn represented Palmerston North.

Some of the regional neighbours knew others on the camp, but most of the participants met for the first time, and they soon bonded quickly to support each other on the different activities.

After an opening night of introductions and a fun activity experimenting with robot toys, the team really went to work on Saturday morning when the trainers at the Marine Education Centre were waiting to put the young visitors through their paces on the climbing wall. The youngsters initially explored the small climbing wall to find out about how to use their arms and legs, but many of them could not wait to get onto their climbing harnesses and onto the ropes. Girl power came to the fore at the camp as the young ladies from the South were leading the way, tackling the first climb like spiders. Inspired by Jacqui and Katie, the other more reluctant members of the team soon followed, and once they got their first taste, many of them could not wait to go up a second and third time.

The next challenge of the adventure was to abseil down the same 10-metre wall and again the women were leading the way. Some of them even stopped mid-decent to sort out their hair and pose for a photo. Standing on top of the climbing wall can be an intimidating place for anyone, even without a fear of heights, but the expert instructors at MERC managed to assist all of their young participants to slide safely down wall, even if some of them were using some unorthodox techniques.

The team and the adults assisting them during the weekend had worked up a sizeable hunger when the fantastic Rapid Relief Team arrived to prepare a delicious lunch of burgers and hot chips. The temptation was almost too big, and some of the participants initially struggled a bit with a full tummy on the archery course, which was the afternoon activity. The bows were large and the arrows were flying at rapid speed towards the target as big cheers erupted for the arrows that landed close to the bullseye.

While the young people were busy brushing up on their climbing and Robin Hood skills, the mothers were whisked away for a coffee and some shopping, and treated to a pampering session with a beauty therapist and masseuse, which some of the parents reluctantly, but gladly accepted.

Once everyone had recovered from the day’s activities, the Vaughan Park chefs put up a wonderful early Christmas dinner, which was a perfect opportunity to make new friends and share the stories of the day. As with previous camps, the participants were quickly able to get rid of their dinner calories during the traditional disco. The extended play list that represented all the Abba and Bee Gees classics, as well as the more contemporary Katy Perry and Taylor Swift repertoires, gave everyone an excuse to strut their stuff.

After all that excitement, it was not a surprise that the team were a bit more subdued on the final morning, but the arts session provided the perfect activity and produced some terrific artwork.

After the final lunch, the participants, parents and support crew said their final goodbyes, but vowed they to stay in touch to share their memories of all the adventures and new skills they experienced at Vaughan Park.

Young adults who are interested in attending the 2019 Youth Development Camp can contact Zandra Vaccarino on [email protected]

New Zealand’s delegation to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi included 38 athletes with intellectual disabilities, five ‘Unified Partners’ (athletes without an intellectual disability), and 21 coaches, managers and support staff.    

Special Olympics group photo

The New Zealand team competed in in swimming, athletics, bocce, equestrian, basketball, bowling, powerlifting and football at the biggest sports and humanitarian event staged anywhere in the world in 2019.  

Special Olympics New Zealand Chief Executive Carolyn Young said the team was treated to an amazing three-hour Opening Ceremony that saw 6,943 athletes parade through the Zayed Sports City Stadium from more than 190 countries.  

The ceremony included a super low pass by an Etihad jet, pyrotechnics and a light show, inspiring words from Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver, and video clips of founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. 

Special Olympics

Te Awamutu swimmer Deshan Wallalavita took out gold medal in the 50m butterfly and silver medals in the 100m freestyle event.  Fellow Special Olympics Te Awamutu athletes Portia Johnson and Unity Collins claimed bronze and silver medals respectively in the 50m freestyle event.  

Special Olympics Waikato athlete Melissa Donoghue scored a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle to add to her silver in the 50m butterfly. Liam Bartley (North Otago) secured a gold medal the 50m butterfly and bronze in the 100m freestyle. 

Kelly Nathan, Liam Bartley, Deshan Wallalavita and Melissa Donoghue were all members of the 4 x50m medley relay team, which won a silver medal. 

Wellington athlete Janiece Pollock  secured two gold medals in the 100m and the Long Jump.   Wellington clubmate, Dominic Faherty won gold in the 200m and came fourth in the 400m.  Holly Jones (Thames Valley) won a silver medal in the 100m to go with her bronze in the mini-javelin.  Kyle Harpur won silver in the shot put and bronze in the mini javelin, and Matthew Westwood won a bronze medal in the long jump.   

Special Olympics

Equestrian rider Charlotte Aroa (Waikato) secured a bronze medal in the English Working Trails Level B1 and a bronze in Dressage.  All three competitors competed in the equestrian team competed in the English Equitation discipline.  Amy Batchelor (Canterbury) secured a silver medal (to go with her silver in the Dressage) and her teammate Alexander Goldsack (Bay of Islands) won a silver in Dressage.   

Special Olympics

The unified mixed football team had a tough tournament with some very competitive games and goals scored.  While unified sport is in its infancy in New Zealand it is a concept that is designed to remove barriers and increase awareness across the community of athletes with an intellectual disability.  The team unity, both on and off the field, has been a highlight for both the coaches and players and was a huge success in achieving the goals of unified sport.    

Natasha Nicholson (Manawatu) competed in the singles bocce competition with tough matches against Pakistan and Italy and managed to come home with a bronze medal!  Then competing in the unified doubles secured another bronze medal with doubles partner Barbara Duncan (Hawkes Bay). 

In a tense competition, James Wilson (Howick-Pakuranga) won four silver medals in powerlifting (squat, bench press, dead lift and overall). He said he was “proud to be second in the world”. 

In bowling, Katie McMilan (Waitakere) secured a silver medal in the singles with a total score of 355, well above her average score.  Richard Willmott (Canterbury) and David Nixon (Waikato) both came away with bronze in the men’s singles event.   

Suffering an ankle injury to their influential captain, Mark Cressingham, the New Zealand baskeball team worked hard throughout the tournament and secured fourth in their division and were delighted with the win in their final game. 

Special Olympics

New Zealand’s largest team to ever attend a World Summer Games competed with equal footing on the worlds largest stage with over 170 countries.   

The memories from the games and the events leading up to the competition will stay with these athletes for a long time, they have come home a little jaded from the travel but invigorated to get back into competition with their clubs. 

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

 

Jack Lewer and Rachel Oemcke were last month rewarded for their outstanding performances at the World Winter Games at the Manawatu Sport Awards.

Winter Games
Jack was named Disabled Sportsman of the Year and Rachel was named as the Disabled Sportswoman of the year in the intellectually disabled section.
Both of them competed at the World Winter Games in Austria in 2017 where Rachel claimed gold in the skiing Super G on the opening day.

The New Zealand team brought home 18 medals in total.

Winter Games

Here are the results of the New Zealand athletes:

Day one:
Rebecca Heath, Skiing Int. Super G (Div. 6) 1:59.01 Bronze; Rachel Oemcke Skiing Int. Super G (Div. 7) 2:28.32 Gold; Chris Westcott Skiing Int. Super G (Div. M4) 1:04.46 4th; Ben Blanche Skiing Int. Super G (Div. M5) 1:18.40 6th; Nathan Symister Skiing Int. Super G (Div. M11) 1:47.05 4th; Cameron Jarvis Skiing Int. Super G (Div. M12) 2:03.09 Gold; Thomas Loftus Skiing Adv. Super G (Div. M2) 1:11.43 6th.

Day two:
Jarrod Gilbert Snowboarding Advanced Super G (Div. M2) 1:15.14 Gold; Kaa Dekker Snowboarding Advanced Super G (Div. M3) 1:11.01 Bronze; Martin Joyce Snowboarding Advanced Super G (Div. M1) 2:39.89 5th.

Day Three:
Rebecca Heath Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. F11) 3:55.46 Silver; Rachel Oemcke Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. F12) 7:37.92 Participation; Chris Westcott Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. M7) 2:16.33 Gold; Ben Blanche Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. M7) 2:35.14 7th; Nathan Symister Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. M13) 3:05.84 Silver; Michael Holdsworth Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. M13) 3:25.99 Bronze; Cameron Jarvis Skiing Int. Giant Slalom (Div. M16) 4:58.81 Bronze; Ella Sharples Skiing Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. F5) 1:45.98 Bronze; Thomas Loftus Skiing Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. M3) 1:47.23 Silver; Jason Donovan Skiing Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. M9) 1:40.80 Silver; Kaa Dekker Snowboarding Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. M2) 2:15.77 Silver; Jarrod Gilbert Snowboarding Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. M3) 2:40.59 Bronze; Martin Joyce Snowboarding Adv. Giant Slalom (Div. M5) 4:59.29 Gold;

Day Five:
Ella Sharples Skiing Adv. Slalom (Div. F4) 1:51.65 Gold; Michael Holdsworth Skiing Int. Slalom (Div. M9) 1:55.71 Bronze; Jason Donovan Skiing Adv. Slalom (Div. M6) 1:46.81 5th.

 

Winter Games

Winter Games

Winter Games