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The Outreach Pet Therapy service was the supreme winner at the 2008 Infratil-Waitakere City Council Community Awards announced last night.
The annual awards celebrate the work carried out by voluntary groups and organisations throughout Waitakere in the past year and were presented at a ceremony in the Waitakere City Council chambers.
The Outreach Pet Therapy service, which also won the health and wellbeing category, is run by the SPCA and St John and involves members taking their pets into rest homes, hospitals, special needs classes in schools and rehabilitation centres.
The service not only allows people to enjoy pats and cuddles with animals, but offers an alternative form of therapy for those recuperating from illness.
The group has won a trip for two of its members to represent Waitakere at the Trust Power National Community Awards in Palmerston North on March 13 to 15, next year. It also receives a cheque for $1500.
A total of 43 entries were received this year, all vying for a win in one of five categories: Sport and Leisure, Heritage and Environment, Health and Wellbeing, Education and Child Youth Development and Arts and Culture. Category winners receive $500.
“Volunteers in Waitakere are the glue that holds this community together and these awards are a great way to recognise the people who put in hours and hours of work for the whole community to benefit from,” said councillor Janet Clews at the .
Health and Wellbeing: SPCA/St John Outreach Pet Therapy.
Sport and Leisure: Waitakere Bear Softball Club.
Heritage and Environment: Waitakere Tramline Society.
Education and Child Youth Development: Leataata Ole Lumanai Trust Pasifika Preschool.
Arts and Culture: Waitakere Indian Association.
Health and Wellbeing - St John and SPCA Outreach Pet Therapy
Outreach Therapy Pets is a programme jointly run by St John and the SPCA which sees their members taking pets in to rest homes, hospitals, rehabilitation and mental health facilities and special needs classes at schools throughout Waitakere and the wider Auckland region. Two of the original therapy pets are from Waitakere.
Heritage and Environment - Waitakere Tramline Society
The Waitakere Tramline Society is a group dedicated to the preservation and continuing operation of the Waitakere tramline for the public. The line runs from the Waitakere Filter Station at the end of Christian Road in Swanson to the base of the Waitakere Dam.
The small group of enthusiasts has restored and upgraded the line over the past 33 years, making it New Zealand’s oldest operating bus tramway. Very popular with the public, the tramway ran more than 250 trips and carried 4880 passengers between May 2007 and April 2008 alone.
Arts and Culture - Waitakere Indian Association
Established eight years ago, the Waitakere Indian Association dedicates itself to keeping alive the Indian culture and traditions among those who have moved to Waitakere and organises events to share that culture with the wider community.
The association organises the Waitakere Diwali Festival each year, has run several children’s concerts, sports events and business network meetings. It also a school catering for Indian language, drama and music needs.
Sport and Leisure - Waitakere Bears Softball Club
A large club with more than 600 members, Waitakere Bears Softball Club offers the opportunity for people to play tee ball (three to nine year olds) and softball. It boasts more than 50 teams across all ages, which play in local and regional competitions.
In addition to having a strong player base, the club is blessed with a large number of volunteers. Each team has a coach, manager, scorer and umpire – all trained by the club.
The club works closely with local schools to develop the sport and also hosts a college sport softball module at its grounds. It holds at least five tournaments throughout the year which members both participate in and help run.
Education and Child Youth Development - Leataata Ole Lumanai Trust Pasifika Preschool
The Samoan language preschool is more than just a place for young people to be educated in their mother tongue; it has become a focal point for the wider school community.
As well as retaining the language and culture for future generations, the preschool aims to remind adults about the importance of a good education.
Among its many services is a literary course for parents to up-skill themselves to help with their reading and to help with children’s homework.
Other community involvements are traditional weaving, arts and craft days by grandparents, story and action song days by community elders, baby massage by local kaumätua and a night of pampering for mothers in the community.