DISABILITY
Toni's Hoop Dreams
Dec. 11, 2017
BY JACQUI SOUTHEY
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''Toni was quite insecure and mentally very young when we met. She's matured a lot over the last four years. There were telltale signs which we learned to recognise, she would become visibly anxious. Rather than ignore what was going on, we challenged her to overcome her anxiety, find ways to deal with it''.

We're currently training hard for the 2017 Special Olympics National Summer Games. The Special Olympics are specifically designed for people with intellectual disabilities, rather than physical ones. The sporting side is really good for their fitness and wellbeing, but the social aspect is amazing. The interaction with peers around the country and around the world helps them understand there are lots of people with similar abilities to themselves.

Toni has faced bullying, not only at school but in sports. It was so bad she had to move schools. Her confidence was really knocked. She wanted to walk away from sports altogether. But since then she's grown much stronger, and has confidence to deal with bullying in the moment. "Actually, that's not okay - you're not going to affect me." 

I think children at school who are different - like a lot of our athletes - still get picked on. We do whatever we can to educate people that someone with a disability can achieve just as much as anyone else, and in many cases more.

Toni has been excelling on the court and just last month was named Athlete With a Disability of the Year at the Wellington College Sportsperson of the Year awards.

She's grown into a young woman who's competing at a high level and is now recognised as an athlete, which is great to see.


You can read Toni's full story on this link https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/99503251/how-a-special-olympian-overcame-obstacles-to-become...


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