When Ben Evans, 24, put together a taekwondo programme for special needs students as part of a school project, he never dreamed it would spread across the globe.

Mr Evans and his taekwondo class have now been invited to attend the first ever international special needs championships.

Last week it was confirmed 13 of his most promising students will compete in the inaugural tournament.

"We need to raise $50,000 by November to cover flights to England next July," Mr Evans said.


Sponsorship and fundraising will be paramount if they are to get all 13 students to England.

A 'Kick-athon", brainchild of Mr Evans, will take place where students will perform as many kicks as possible within a allotted time and be sponsored per kick.

"Imagine if each student got 10 sponsors at 50c or $1 a kick, we would reach our target in no time."

Mr Evans first pitched the idea of a special needs taekwondo class to the head of special needs at Havelock North High School in 2006.

From it emerged 10 Down Syndrome, autistic and cerebral palsy participants for part of their PE assessment programme.

"To see the change in people and the development in special-needs children really drives me. I think it definitely makes a difference in the community. I want to change society," he said.

He has a number of success stories and even has a couple of students in line to get black belts. Johann Landkroon was one of the original students who started at Havelock North High School.

"When he began, Johann had poor flexibility and fitness was lacking," Mr Evans said.

He has poor vision, back problems and Down syndrome.

"Once he knew that taekwondo involved competing at championships he became very interested."

On top of training, he had a long term goal, 1st Degree Black Belt.

Johann travelled to North Korea in 2011.

It was here Johann performed a demonstration in front of 5000 people, sparking further interest in the discipline.

"Some might remember he was voted locally and internationally as People's Choice for a scholarship of $10,000 to go towards the ground-breaking trip," Mr Evans said.

"He has come very far and will continue to amaze all of his taekwondo brothers and sisters locally and internationally."

Johann will represent NZ in both individual and team events.

Mr Evans wants as many of his students as possible to embark for England with him.

The students ages range from 14 to21.

"We must get these kids there to set a big impression for New Zealand."

-A givealittle page has been created to help the team achieve their dream: