Paralympics New Zealand announced Friday the launch of the Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions initiative, which aims to change perceptions of people with impairments through the lens of Paralympians, Para athletes and the Paralympic Movement.
The initiative connects the group of Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions with organisations that wish to hear their stories, including schools around New Zealand.
Twelve Para athletes and Paralympians were named Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions on Friday.
They are Para athletes Mitch Joynt (Para athletics) and Jaden Movold (Para athletics), and Paralympians Rory McSweeney (Para athletics), Corbin Hart (Para canoe), Barney Koneferenisi (Wheelchair rugby), Anna Taylor (Para cycling), Danielle Aitchison (Para athletics), Caitlin Dore (Para athletics), William Stedman (Para athletics), Mike Todd (Wheelchair rugby), Holly Robinson (Para athletics) and Sarah Ellington (Para cycling).
In the inaugural year, the focus for the Para Sport Champions is to work with 20 selected primary schools across the country. By telling their stories, they will bring to life the Paralympic values and challenge attitudes towards people with impairments.
“PNZ’s vision is ‘through Para sport, lives will be transformed.’ The Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions are incredible individuals who will challenge perceptions of disability through sharing their lived experience and Para sport journey, while highlighting the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration, equality,” said Fiona Allan, chief executive of Paralympics New Zealand.
Harvey Norman, an Official Partner of Paralympics New Zealand, said the company is excited to come on board.
“The Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions are our way of supporting Para athletes’ impact in the community. This programme connects these amazing role models and allows them to work as ambassadors with the communities who need to see them,” said Lisa Hickford, General Manager Bedding & Bed Linen at Harvey Norman New Zealand.
Paralympics New Zealand worked with its members, including national sports organisations and regional Parafed organisations, to help identify and recruit Para Sport Champions at different levels of the Para sport pathway.
In the long term, the committee and Harvey Norman will look to expand the initiative to include more Paralympians and Para athletes.