Parafed Auckland has received a $25,000 funding boost from the New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) which has enabled it to purchase a range of new equipment for its athletes.
Parafed Auckland is a non-profit organisation which coordinates and organises sports events for people who have physical disabilities. There are currently 380 disabled athletes involved with Parafed - many of them use a wheelchair for mobility or other mobility aid.
Parafed chairperson Jody Tapa says the organisation’s goal is to encourage disabled people to maintain an active lifestyle.
“Aside from the obvious physical and health benefits, which are many, sport contributes towards the development of social skills and psychological well–being,” says Ms Tapa. “Regular involvement in sporting activities increases people’s overall quality of life. It is part of a holistic healing process, and can contribute to a brighter future for people with physical disabilities.
“We provide a number of sporting opportunities for Parafed members - from rowing to rugby, cycling to sailing – in fact we currently organise 16 different sports for physically disabled people in the greater Auckland region,” she says.
“We see some incredible outcomes as a result of the sporting events and training we provide. Particularly with young people who have recently lost the use of their legs and are learning to adapt mentally and physically to life in a wheelchair.
“Of course, like most non-profit organisations, funding is a major concern. We rely heavily on volunteers and organisations like NZCT to support us. This grant has enabled us to purchase sports equipment such as a rugby wheelchair, air rifles, oars, an adult’s tricycle, power-chair soccer balls and goals and, as a result, we’ll be able to cater for and help more than 200 members.”
Although Parafed primarily focuses on providing grassroots sporting events, plans are underway to organise a national sporting competition which will be held in 2014. This would give athletes an opportunity to compete against a broader range of athletes, at a higher level.
“At the moment, unless you are successful enough to compete at the Paralympics, there is no national event our members can work towards,” says Ms Tapa. “We think there’s a gap in the market here, so we’re creating a competition that will motivate and inspire our sportsmen and women to train hard towards their sporting goals.”
The event, which will be held at Bruce Pulman Park during Easter 2014, will be known as the Opportunity Games. During its first year, it will be open to all New Zealand disabled athletes. The following year, Australian athletes will be invited to participate, and in 2016 the competition will be extended to cater for disabled people throughout Oceania.
NZCT Northern Regional Advisory Committee chairman Colin Dale says NZCT is fully supportive of Parafed Auckland and is delighted to be able to help such a worthwhile, valuable organisation.
“NZCT is one of the largest funders of amateur sport in New Zealand,’ says Mr Dale. “We appreciate how important sport is to society – all members – whether abled or disabled. We want everyone to have access to sport and to be able to participate in a way that helps them grow and develop.
“We wish Parafed Auckland’s members all the best for their upcoming sporting events and look forward to hearing more about the Opportunity Games.”