Rochelle Waters recently received the NZDSA National Achievement Award from Rt Hon Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. She was nominated by the Canterbury Special Olympics administrator Helen Mitchell, who describes how Special Olympics are just part of Rochelle’s terrific list of achievements.
I would like to nominate Rochelle Waters for the NZDSA 2020 National Achievement Awards.
I know Rochelle through her involvement with Special Olympics and am amazed at what Rochelle has achieved throughout her lifetime, which is why I would like her to be considered for this Award.
Rochelle started swimming with Special Olympics in 2002 after shifting to Christchurch from Hamilton, where she had lived for five years.
She began competing very early on in ribbon days held throughout Christchurch, Regional Games which were held throughout the South Island and then on to compete in National Games which have been held in Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch.
In 2016 she became a Global Messenger for Special Olympics which has meant she has been called upon to speak about Special Olympics and what it has to offer and how she has benefitted from her involvement with Special Olympics.
She has been the Chairperson of the local Special Olympics Athletes Committee which meant she also had to attend the Upper South Island Regional Committee meetings and, after finishing her term as Chairperson, she still remains on the local Athletes’ Committee.
As well as being a member of the Special Olympics team, Rochelle belongs to Jolt Dance, which is a mixed ability dance group and has offered Rochelle a multitude of opportunities also.
Rochelle has performed in many shows with Jolt and has been a part of their teacher trainee programme which now sees Rochelle teach her own class of students with disabilities on a Monday afternoon.
She has travelled to Gisborne and Wanaka to perform in schools in a programme which is a collaboration between Jolt Dance and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Rochelle attended Darfield High School and in her final year at school, secured work experience with the Darfield Bakery as a bakery assistant working out the back in the kitchen.
After she left school, she was able to continue doing work experience for three hours per day two days a week, as well as doing work experience at West Melton School, the primary school she attended, and also the West Melton Kindergarten.
Halfway through the year, the Darfield Bakery owner advised he would like to start paying Rochelle and then even offered her an extra day of work, which was a credit to Rochelle’s work ethic and reliability and the Bakery’s recognition of Rochelle’s work.
Unfortunately, this meant Rochelle had to give up her work experience at the school and the kindergarten, but Rochelle loves working at the Bakery and takes great pride in her work and enjoys the camaraderie she has with her work colleagues.
Helping out with flouring the tins for the bread, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes and icing the biscuits are a few of her duties.
Rochelle has attended self-advocacy camps with the NZDSA, which she has enjoyed immensely, and would eventually love to be a self-advocate on the STRIVE group.
She has also been on the Committee of the Canterbury Down Syndrome Association.
Rochelle has learnt to travel independently on buses and planes through her involvement with Special Olympics, Jolt and the NZDSA, and she is hoping to go flatting in the near future – maybe even with her boyfriend, Sam!
Rochelle’s family has had a significant role to play in helping Rochelle achieve all she has achieved. Her Mum and Dad, Shelley and Jeff, and her two sisters, Jessica and Gemma, have supported and encouraged Rochelle along the way.
I know they are very proud of the confident, well-grounded young woman Rochelle has become.