New website a huge boost for disabled kids

By Cameron Leslie

Northland sports clubs are part of those listed on a new website to help disabled sportspeople find the appropriate clubs for them.

Disabled children now have a quick and easy way to find sports clubs that can cater for their needs thanks to a new search tool created by a New Zealand web development firm.

The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation's Allsports website allows kids to go online, enter their disability and location, and view the activities they're able to participate in.

It finds, for example, six clubs in Northland suitable for children who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy, amputations, are wheelchair-users or have an intellectually disabled child.

Clubs such as Active Attitude, Bay of Islands Swimming Club, Kaitaia Gymnastic Inc, Parafed Northland, Whangarei Academy of Gymnastics, and the Whangarei Triathlon Club have been listed as "accessible" clubs/facilities.

Each club has a biography listed alongside it which explains which disabilities they cater for and what sports are available.

Parafed Northland's, which is largely known as a feeding organisation to clubs for people with Paralympic aspirations, biography says: "Parafed Northland aims to increase opportunities and encourage Northlanders with physical and visual impairments to participate in sport and recreation at all levels.

"We also aim to support initiatives and increase access into clubs and schools for disabled people. We work with people in our communities who have physical and visual impairments, and try to ensure they are included and involved in Sport and Recreation for enjoyment, good health and competition - which can lead into Paralympic pathways."

A team of five staff at Auckland's NV Interactive spent about four months developing the website, said digital strategist Will Morris.

"We wanted to make it easy for children with disabilities to find out information about sport - how they can get involved and where they can get involved," Morris said.

He said the sports finder tool was basically a powerful search engine.

"Some disabilities make it particularly difficult for particular sports - clubs need to have a certain level of facilities," he said. "The search tool matches all of those things together."

He said the website had a "zero nil result" policy, meaning it always came up with options for a child.

Before the website was introduced the foundation ran a "paper-based" system for putting kids in touch with sports clubs that could cater for them.

He said the website had also streamlined the processes around applying for grants from the foundation.

"In terms of information and funding we've almost completely brought [the foundation] into the digital age."

The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation's website's URL is: www.allsportsnz.co.nz

- Northern Advocate

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