A special day for some special children


15 June 2021 


Forty-five children, some with significant barriers to overcome, got the chance to mix with their peers and try out a variety of sporting activities at an AccessAbility event at Springvale Stadium on Wednesday, 9 June 2021.

The annual event has been running for four years and is organised by Churton School deputy principal Gary Johnston, and Sport Whanganui tamariki activator Dinelle Saunders.


"This is a group of kids who, for a number of reasons, often miss out on more sport-specific inter-school events," says Gary.


There were 10 schools involved, but he would like more and also hopes the event can become once a term, rather than once a year.


Gary gets support from the Halberg Trust and Sport Whanganui - as well as a number of willing parents and teachers.


And the laughter, smiles and energy of the children taking part is testimony to the value of the event.


Also attending on Wednesday was Whanganui District Health Board’s Alex Kemp, who was keen to check out the innovative work being done on behalf of these children, and to see where the DHB could support community-driven initiatives like this.


The DHB’s Chief Allied Professions Officer, Alex has recently been appointed WDHB’s disability lead.


She says this is a role close to her heart as her career as a speech and language therapist was spent mainly working with children with complex disabilities.


“Gary is doing some great work, and I was impressed that this is a community-owned and community-led venture,” says Alex.


“Working with people with disabilities is always most successful when it is community developed, led and owned, but the DHB needs to be connected and supportive.”


The DHB is preparing a disability strategy and part of that involves reaching out to the community for feedback on the document.


“We will be reaching out to organisations we know for input in the near future, but I would encourage anyone interested in providing feedback and input into the strategy – whether an individual or an organisation – to contact me.”


Alex’s email address is: