Encouraging the person you support 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 Altogether Autism, 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 the person you care for to socialise and participate in planned activities and friendship groups. You can find a comprehensive directory of support organisations at New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders.
Local Area Coordinators (LACs) can help people connect with what’s happening in their community. Learn more about Life Unlimited’s LAC service in the Hutt Valley. LACs are also available in the Lakes/Bay of Plenty region and Otago/Southland region.
Sports and the outdoors
There are lots of ways to get involved in sport. Visit Halberg AllSports and search the sports club finder tool to find local opportunities. Halberg also administer the AllSports Activity Fund which provides grants to physically disabled young people (up to the age of 21) to help them take part in sport.
Find more opportunities to get involved with sport at Sport New Zealand.
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 which provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities in New Zealand.
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.
If you live in Auckland, Christchurch or the Waikato, Recreate New Zealand provides experiences for young people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities in three different age groups (up to the age of 35) – from day activities like bowling or zoo visits, to camping trips.
Learn about Life Fit – a fitness, exercise and health programme run by Life Unlimited in Hamilton.
Art, music and dance
Adult Community Education (ACE) courses are an opportunity to learn new skills and meet people, and there are lots of course options, from art, music and dance, to computing, cooking and gardening. Find ACE providers throughout New Zealand.
Arts Access Aotearoa support 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 (up to the age of 25) to explore their talents, meet friends and build confidence through music and performance workshops.
And don’t forget to check out what’s happening at your local library.
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.
You might be interested in joining Neighbourly, an online community made up of people in your neighbourhood. You’ll be able to see what’s happening in the area where you live.
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.