Parafed Northland has received some exciting donations recently, making the sports sector more accessible and inclusive for the disability group in the region.
The organisation was offered a fully accessible van by TLC 4u2 100 per cent sponsored for a five-year lease, including insurance and maintenance.
It also received funding through the new Sport NZ Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa Initiative to fund a fully accessible trailer with inclusive play and sports equipment, that can be accessed by all and had gear tailored specifically with inclusivity in mind.
The third donation was a handcycle, received through funding from Four Winds Foundation.
Parafed Northland Active Recreation and Community Sports coordinator Sharon Carroll said as an organisation, they did not have any mode of transportation and were relying on employees to use their vehicles, which wasn't sustainable.
"We go to lots of schools and run inclusive sport, so to have something that we know the organisation was able to build and grow with would have been good. But we couldn't get the funding for it.
"When Jonathan Harris (TLC 4u2 CEO) heard we were struggling with the funding; he just gave us this offer."
The van has done 4500 kilometres in eight weeks.
Carroll said TLC 4u2 got involved with the organisation two years ago by supporting the Northland Wheelchair Basketball Team with uniforms. They paid for the stadium hire at the McKay Stadium for the Northland hosting National League in May this year along with sponsoring a raffle for the team.
"We are very lucky that as an organisation we receive funding from a lot of other organisations like Foundation North, Oxford Sports Trust, numerous COGS funding, Sport NZ through different avenues including the Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa Initiative that funded the accessible trailer.
"This is going to be massive for our organisation because now we are going to be able to go to schools, do pop-up events and basically just get active and create more inclusive activities for the community."
The fully accessible trailer included specific equipment for those who might have a visual impairment and specific sensory play equipment.
The trailer was modified by Ten4 engineering and could be accessed by everyone, including those in a chair, making this trailer one of the first they had seen to allow everyone to choose and pack up the gear completely independently, said Carroll.
"We are already booked in with some schools to try to share the message that sport is for all and to specifically support our tamariki and rangatahi within our schools and kura that may benefit from these awesome resources.
"We hope to have this equipment will remove barriers for play, sport and being active and allow our young people living with disabilities the opportunity to get involved in sport alongside their peers."
Carroll said one of the biggest challenges as an organisation was how do they service areas outside of Whangārei. Facilities and spaces would be a huge contributor to that.
"For example, there aren't any stadiums other than Kensington for us to utilise, so if we are organising a basketball match in Kaikohe or Kaitaia, where do we do it?
"As spaces and places become more inclusive and actually are there for all of the community, that will help too.
"We have a lot of members who are based in different parts of Northland, but what we are able to achieve depends on where they come from.
"Many members who are from Mid to Far North drive down to Whangārei each week to do the training and drive back home again."
Carroll said the handcycle could be used in places like the Hatea Loop as well as tracks like the alps to the ocean.
"Again, this type of equipment we hope will open up adventures on our paths and cycleways for a disabled person and their family, especially now that Pohe Island Bike Park in Whangārei has opened.
"This piece of equipment is $20,000 but you cannot put a price on the opportunity for it to change many people's ability to do things in their lives."
With regards to the cost of equipment, Carroll said they were fortunate to receive the funding.
"If someone wants to play in the wheelchair basketball team, it's $4500 for a chair, and that is entry-level. We try to get funding for equipment that people can loan.
"A lot of our equipment that we purchase through Te Manawa funding for the people with visual impairment has to come from either Denmark or England, as we don't have it here in New Zealand.
"The handcycle has come from Germany and there is only one organisation in New Zealand that imports any kind of trikes or handcycles or any such equipment.
"The frustration that we feel, let alone our families, is to just get somewhere on our own which is accessible or to have to battle with the fundings for things because everything is so expensive.
"If we can be a part of creating a change of how people view disability, we can create more opportunities."