Story: Disabled sport

Page 4. Promoting disabled sport

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Following the Education Amendment Act 1987, children with disabilities were brought into the mainstream education system. This in turn led many young people with disabilities to expect the same sporting opportunities as were enjoyed by their able-bodied peers. The Hillary Commission was set up by the government to get more people involved in sport and physical fitness. In 1998 the commission developed the No Exceptions Strategy to encourage sporting activities among people with intellectual, physical or sensory disabilities.

From 2002 this strategy was implemented by the government organisation SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand), which in 2012 changed its name to Sport New Zealand. Sport New Zealand administers the No Exceptions investment, a targeted contestable fund for organisations involved in promoting sport among people with disabilities. The goals of this approach are to increase participation by disabled people in sport, build up capabilities and provide more opportunities.

Who’s in the news?

Before 1974 disabled sport received limited media coverage, mostly in human-interest stories. The exceptions were high-profile athletes such as Eve Rimmer and Neroli Fairhall. The 1974 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in Dunedin was given extensive coverage, including its own commemorative stamp. Disabled sport once again slipped from the limelight until the documentaries Twelve days of glory, on the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, and Triumph of the human spirit, on the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, helped raise public awareness.  Since 2008, swimmer Sophie Pascoe has gained mainstream recognition as one of New Zealand’s most successful athletes.

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation

The Halberg Trust was established in 1963 by Murray Halberg, who was inspired by fundraising efforts for disabled sport in Toronto, Canada. In 2012 the organisation changed its name to the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. The foundation is committed to helping young people with a disability participate in sport and active leisure. Its regional advisers work with clubs and schools to provide opportunities for training and competition.

The foundation's major fundraising event is the annual Halberg Awards, which recognise sporting excellence. In 2011 a new award was added, the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year, for which disabled sportspeople and teams were eligible. The inaugural winner was swimmer Sophie Pascoe.

How to cite this page:

Ian McDonald, 'Disabled sport - Promoting disabled sport', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 January 2022)

Story by Ian McDonald, published 5 Sep 2013, reviewed & revised 2 Aug 2017