Founded in 1963 by Sir Murray Halberg, the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation works to ensure that all people, regardless of their ability, have equal opportunity to take part in and enhance their lives through sport. Over the past several months, the foundation and the Ellerslie Recreation Centre managed by YMCA have fostered a very rewarding partnership, with the two organisations working together for the good of the community.
This began back in October last year, with Halberg getting involved with Family Day. Ellerslie Recreation Centre Manager, Chris Laing, recalls that the foundation were trying to get the word out about their organisation and an event they were having to encourage children to get involved with sport, so he invited them along to Family Day. They gained a lot of awareness, and also helped out by providing some fun activities for the over 1,200 people who attended.
Ellerslie Recreation Centre then returned the favour, going along to Halberg’s fifth annual Auckland Halberg Junior Disability Sport Day to help out, providing them with two rowing machines and two staff members for the event. It was a great day, with over 80 athletes participating and trying out some new sports. After the event, Chris approached Halberg, saying that the YMCA staff had “really enjoyed themselves”, and told them that if they ever needed a venue, they should get in touch.
The foundation happily took them up on the offer and now, if they need space, and the centre is un-booked, Ellerslie Recreation Centre provides this free of charge. Helen Robinson, Disability Sport Adviser for West Auckland at Halberg, is very grateful for this opportunity. “Most recently, we have used YMCA’s sports hall to run some ‘Team Auckland’ gatherings prior to the 2015 Halberg Junior Disability Games - a national sports competition for physically disabled and vision impaired young people aged 8-21 years,” she says. “We met on four or five separate occasions to practise wheelchair basketball, goalball, boccia and sitting volleyball with the team. Practise paid off too, as Auckland came third in the wheelchair basketball competition!”