Sport NZ launches $3.6m funding for disabled rangatahi

By Mare Haimona-Riki

A new disability fund launched by Sport NZ has been announced to support disabled tamariki and rangatahi in sports and recreation programmes across the motu.

Swimming NZ para-swimming development coordinator Cameron Leslie (Ngāpuhi) says there hasn't always been an equal pathway for disabled swimmers but with this fund, they'll be able to help their young swimmers achieve their goals. 

“It’s just the opportunity to have people in the water and enjoying it, feeling safe and a chance to do what they see their peers doing.”

It’s a $3.6 million contestable fund delivered over three years, meaning organisations can apply for single or multi-year funding of up to $100,000 each year if they are able to provide sustainable changes to their programmes that will benefit disabled rangatahi.

Leslie says in his three years at Swimming NZ, he's been involved in many programmes and initiatives that encourage young disabled children to get in the pool, regardless of experience.

"We’ve been able to have a connection with people from day dot wanting to get involved in the sport up until that high-performance development space.”

This funding comes after New Zealand's para-swimming team came away with five medals from the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games. 

“They did so well. Probably one of the silver linings to New Zealand being in lockdown is we got to watch a lot more of it than we probably would have.”