Eastern and Central Community Trust staff had the privilege of catching up with Sport Hawke’s Bay’s Disability and Inclusion Advisor, Katie Owen, recently.
Katie is just one year into her role, which was created with the help of funding from Eastern and Central Community Trust, to develop and enhance sport and recreational opportunities for disabled people in Hawke’s Bay.
“The disability and inclusion space is an area that we are really pleased to have more resource dedicated to in Hawke’s Bay in a sporting context,” Katie says.
“Previously there has been limited resource in Hawke’s Bay dedicated solely on increasing opportunities for disabled people to participate in play, active recreation and sport, so Sport Hawke’s Bay has really taken the lead in this space.”
Katie has wasted no time in gaining a good understanding of regional sports clubs, disability organisations and schools, and the opportunities they currently provide for disabled people.
Through online consultations, small focus groups and face-to-face interviews, Katie has engaged with over 150 members of the Hawke’s Bay community and key partners, such as Halberg Foundation, Special Olympics and the Blind Foundation, to gain a deeper understanding of the current climate and what opportunities are missing.
Community feedback revealed there was a lack of fully accessible places and spaces, particularly swimming pools, as well as a lack of choice and variety of activities to participate in and a lack of inclusion within mainstream sports.
Meanwhile, providers expressed their desire and willingness to provide opportunities but struggle with lack of resources and support.
“From what we’ve heard, providers are seeking more training, knowledge and collaboration while our disabled community are looking for more funding, more accessible transport, places and spaces, support, communication and advocacy.
“We’re now in the process of establishing a local working group to develop an action plan based on the priorities identified from this feedback.”
Katie will be facilitating a disability and inclusion upskilling workshop for local cycle skills instructors on the 19th and 20th of November, which is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and has recently supported the development of a Boccia workshop to help develop the sport in Hawke’s Bay.
“We have a long way to go on this journey but we’re on the right track. Our goal is to ensure there is more equity within the system and to increase the opportunities available for disabled people to be active throughout Hawke’s Bay,” Katie says.