Stratford for the first time was host to the an annual swimming event for secondary school students with disabilities run by Special Olympics New Zealand.
Julia Sanson, the regional sports co-ordinator for the organisation, says Stratford High School has been a very strong supporter of Athletes With Disabilities events since they were first launched in Taranaki and therefore it has been great to hold an event in their home town.
She explains that they run a different inter-secondary school sports event every term for athletes with disabilities, which incorporates students with intellectual and physical disabilities, open to all Taranaki secondary schools, with swimming being one of the four events.
On November 6, 55 students came from as far as Wanganui and Waitara to compete and Julia says there were "some great achievements in the pool". She is grateful to members of Stratford Swimming Club who volunteered as timekeepers and starters, and mainstream students from Spotswood College, Waitara High School and Stratford High School who, Julia says, did a great job. "Without the assistance of volunteers like this, these events would not be possible to run." Anne Howison, a staff member assisting the students from Stratford High School, says the students enjoyed themselves immensely and "displayed huge commitment in what was pretty stiff competition".