P!NK vs Bowls – celebrating diversity

Not even a howling southerly or an exciting P!NK concert could prevent a fabulous crowd of 25 participants joining in the fun for a special day of bowls in Dunedin, last week. The event was the final “Have a Go” day of bowls for women with any disability. This series of nine events were held in each of Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin over the past few months. The New Zealand Blind Lawn Bowling Association (NZBLBA) have been grateful for the support provided by the Ministry for Women as it has meant the NZBLBA have been able to contract two of our superstar Blackjacks Tayla Bruce and Val Smith to host these events. The project has been a raging success with over 65 participants taking part. While the intent of the project was fully around participation, the outcome has been not only that, but a number of clubs and all of the para bowls organisations will also be welcoming at least fourteen new members into their communities! The NZBLBA are likely to gain eight new members, Para Bowls New Zealand at least four and New Zealand Deaf Bowls two. Watch this space because there has been requests from other parts of the country to replicate these activities and work is occurring to consider what can be developed.

Last week’s Dunedin event, hosted by Tayla and a group of generous volunteers, was supposed to be at the very friendly Forbury Park Club but because of the unpleasant weather it was transferred indoors to the Hopes Dunedin Stadium. All the participants and volunteers had a great time. As has been the case at all of these events, smiles, chatter, fun and laughter have been the order of the day. Everyone present heads home keen for more opportunities. There is even talk of an inaugural Canterbury versus Otago fun challenge being developed. Let’s see what happens during the winter!

While all this fun was occurring in Dunedin, an extra event was happening in Nelson. Val, and her volunteers, had completed the three events planned for Nelson a couple of weeks ago. However, Val received a request from another Tasman Special Needs Group seeking an opportunity for their members to “Have a Go”. Many thanks to Val and the Tahunanui Bowling Club for supporting this additional event to go ahead. Amazingly another 20 folk came to that event as well! Of course the same rules of fun, smiles and laughter applied.

The NZBLBA would like to thank the following Clubs and members in supporting these events – Tahunanui, Burnside, Halswell, Forbury Park, Taieri and the Hopes Dunedin Stadium. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who assisted along the way. Thanks to Tayla and Val for their special skills and energy that they brought to this project and finally thanks to the Ministry of Women for funding the opportunity for this project to occur. You have all made a really positive difference in the lives of all the participants.

- Kevin Smith, NZBLBA and Bowls New Zealand Para Lead