Explore our Disability Supports and Services Directory
0800 008 011
Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Encouraging teens to get active and make friends

Teens playing football on the grass

Encouraging your teen to get active and take part in recreational activities is not only good for their body, it’s also good for their self-esteem and confidence too — and it can be a great way for them to meet new friends who share similar interests.

Making contact with a disability support organisation — such as Autism NZ, the Cerebral Palsy Society or Down Syndrome Association — is a great first step to getting out and meeting people. You’ll find many support organisations provide opportunities for you, your family and your child to socialise and participate in planned activities and friendship groups. You can find a directory of support organisations at the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders.

School-aged teens

Your teen should have lots of opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities at school – and not just sports!

Extra-curricular activities are a great way for your teen to explore their interests and spend time with friends. Drama, dance, glee club, enviro-clubs, computing and technology clubs — there’s usually something for every young person.

Other youth clubs allow young people to build confidence by taking part in challenging new experiences. Girl Guides and Scouts are available nationwide and are suitable for all ages.

If you live in Auckland, Christchurch or the Waikato, Recreate New Zealand provides experiences for youth with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities in three different age groups – from day activities like bowling or zoo visits to camping trips.

Sports and the outdoors

There are lots of ways your teen can get involved in sports. Visit Halberg Active and search the sports club finder tool to find local opportunities to suit your teen. Halberg also administers the Activity Fund which provides grants to physically disabled young people to help them take part in sport.

Parafed promote sport and recreation for people with physical disabilities and visual impairments. Find a Parafed organisation.

Special Olympics New Zealand offers a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with an intellectual disability.

Sailing is a sport that allows everybody, regardless of ability or disability, to take part on a level playing field. There are many opportunities to get on the water in boats that can be adapted to suit anybody. Visit Yachting New Zealand to find accessible yachting opportunities in your region.

New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association (NZRDA) is a charitable organisation that provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities in New Zealand.

The Inspiration Voyage is a five-day voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand for young people with physical disabilities. The emphasis of the programme is providing opportunities for young people to face challenges outside their usual boundaries so they can gain confidence and achieve things that previously might have looked impossible.

Adaptive Snow Sports encourages people of all abilities to get involved in snow sports and works to remove barriers by running special adaptive programmes. read our story about how to get involved.

Read about Sport Opportunity After School run by Life Unlimited (now known as Your War | Kia Roha), which provides opportunities for children and young people with disabilities between the ages of 5 and 21. Check out the latest after-school programme here.

Art, music and dance

Arts Access Aotearoa supports creative spaces where people can make art, or participate in artistic activities such as theatre, dance, music, film and creative writing.

Star Jam provides an opportunity for young people with disability to explore their talents, meet friends and build confidence through music and performance workshops

Community events and activities

Here are some websites where you can find out what events are happening in your town:

You can search Eventfinda to find events by date, location or entry price.

i-site is a national network providing visitor information about regional attractions and events  — but you don’t have to be a tourist to use it.  Find your local i-site.

Your local council’s website usually has information about parks and reserves, public amenities like swimming pools and libraries, and local events. Find your local council.

You can find a list of upcoming events, workshops and support groups, especially for disabled people and their carers on the Firstport website.

You may also be interested in

Summer means longer daylight hours, warmer weather, and hopefully some lovely sunny...
Encouraging your child to get active and take part in recreational activities...

Suggest an edit for Encouraging teens to get active and make friends

Suggest an edit for Encouraging teens to get active and make friends