A team of people with Down syndrome providing advice, leadership, and advocacy within NZDSA and beyond

Home 9 Strive

STRIVE  is the name of our Leadership Group.  

We like what our name stands for, we like that we can strive to make a difference for the lives of people with Down syndrome.

Our name and Values

Speak up to be heard




Value Individuality


Mission Statement

We believe in people with Down syndrome and value and promote their voice.

STRIVE Members 2024

Erin Smith

Northland Zone 1

Hi my name is Erin Smith. I really enjoy dancing. I go to 2 classes/ groups each week. One is hiphop group called Strongbeatz  and Starjam is the other one. I love being part of our Young people’s group called Great M8’s group every fortnight.

I go to work 5  days a week for Northland Health. I am an administrator for the District Nursing team. I have been working for the hospital for nearly 20 years. I love my job and love working with a lot of different people.

I’ve been a member of Strive since it began. I really love meeting with the other members and supporting new people.

In 2018 I went to Glasgow to the Down syndrome International conference and gave a presentation about our Strive journey, I have really had to get out of my comfort zone.

Fun Fact: I have been on TV several times including Shortland Street and Down For Love.

Mohit Chand

Auckland Zone 1

I like: Dancing, keeping fit and hanging with friends

As a Strive member, I participate and contribute to the workshops.

I also assist in introducing and/or giving note of thanks to the guest speakers:

Fun Fact: I am a good entertainer

Abigail Knight

Auckland Zone 1

Kia ora my name is Abigail Knight. I  live in Auckland and have worked at Woop for 3 years. 

I love to dance and spend time with friends. 

STRIVE believes in inclusion at school so I enjoy sharing that message when I present to educators at the Success in Schools workshops

Fun Fact – I studied Spanish

Vincenzo Vaccarino

Manawatū zone 3

Kia ora my name is Vincenzo Vaccarino. I  live in Palmerston North. I enjoy writing, dancing, spending time with friends and movies.

I volunteer at City Mission and I work at the Koru Lounge.

I want to be a public speaker.

I am proud to be a STRIVE member so we can talk about the rights of people with Down syndrome.

Fun fact I love making truffles and hope to start selling them soon.

Duncan Armstrong

Wellington Zone 4

I am Duncan Armstrong. I live in Wellington. I am a Dancer, actor and drummer.

I also work at Whitireia Performing Arts School.

I am a founding member of STRIVE. I enjoy supporting emerging self-advocacy.   leaders

I think it is really important to have performers with disabilities in all the arts and I am really proud to be working and excited that there are more and more opportunities for artists with disabilities.

Fun Fact I enjoy travelling.

Peter Rees

Canterbury Zone 6

My name is Peter Rees I was born in 1989 on a Sunday afternoon at the Saint George’s Hospital on Heaton Street in Christchurch New Zealand. I’ve got two sisters one older and one younger.

I am a member of Strive as a voice for people who can’t speak up for themselves and for others as well, not only am I a Strive member, but I am also the Mid-south Regional President of People First and I am on the Accessibility Advisory Group within the Christchurch City Council.

Here are some fun facts about myself:

  • I got to meet and shake hands with the King Charles III and Queen Camilla of Great Britain when they were down in Christchurch for a Royal Visit which happened twice
  • I got a National Award from the Governor General on World Down Syndrome Day 21 March 2008
  • I got a photo taken with David Kirk at the Canterbury UPP Club’s Sausage Sizzle Fundraiser playing golf with him

Rochelle Waters

Canterbury Zone 6

My name is Rochelle waters.  I am 29 years old and live in Christchurch.

I work at the Darfield Bakery three days a week, I teach dance on a Monday morning and I am part of a dance tutor training programme on a Tuesday.

I enjoy dancing and have been doing jolt dance for about 17 years. I also enjoy swimming, ten-pin bowling and hanging out with my friends.

I enjoy being a member of the STRIVE group, being a role model and advocating for people with Down Syndrome to help them speak up and be heard.

Fun Fact – i love going to concerts and shows and having a great time.!!!

STRIVE worked with the United Nations Youth New Zealand to create declarations on two public policy areas that are important to us: Education and Health