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UniRec Community Focus - Sport Opportunity After School Programmes

23 Jun 2014

Recently nominated for the Pride of New Zealand Awards in the Community Spirit category, Maioro Barton has been recognised by the public for the fantastic work he does with youth in the Waikato community.

On a daily basis, Maioro demonstrates that being in a wheelchair doesn't need to stop anyone from pushing their limits and for the past decade, he’s been helping other young people with a disability do the same.

Maioro Barton, 27, was born with spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair most of his life. In 2001 at the age of 14 became the youngest member of the NZ under-20 wheelchair basketball team.

"There's a quote that I live by every day: 'Dwell less on the disability and focus more on the possibilities'," he said. "My goal is to get young people with disabilities into sport. To me, it is very rewarding seeing them participating in sports and seeing the benefits that participating in sports has - like building friendships, achieving personal goals, weight loss, positive outlooks on life."

Maioro works at Sport Waikato and is the co-ordinator for an after-school programme that helps young people with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities. Sport Opportunity After School Programmes are designed to provide sporting opportunities for children and young people with disabilities and their families. Two of the classes take place at UniRec.

He bases his programmes around a number of sports, including hockey, athletics, basketball, and dance.

Seeing students’ personal development thrive in an active environment drives Maioro who says that he has “the credibility” to let students know that sport can take you places and you can still do stuff in life by dreaming big and focusing on the possibility.

There have been numerous success stories of students reaching their potential both in day to day life as well as on a grander scale.

“One student had a huge passion for long distance running, so I created a pathway by putting him in touch with a local club, he flourished and went on to represent NZ in para-athletics in Christchurch.”

It’s not just success on a grand scale that Maioro gets a kick out of, it’s the feedback he receives on the improvements that students have made in their home life through the skills and sport sessions.

“One day we were doing a racquet and ball skills session which is great for balance and a parent of a cerebral palsy student told me that it had helped him carry his plate of food to the table. I was thrilled a fun activity provided such benefits.”

Sport Opportunity After School Programmes are held at UniRec on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5pm.

The programme is available for students between the ages of 5-21 years old that have an intellectual, physical or sensory disability. It is a fun & FREE sports programme coordinated through Sport Waikato.

Do you know someone who could be interested? Contact UniRec Reception  or find out more at