It was all eyes on the ball — and bowls — as budding athletes tried their hand at some favourites last week.
Special Olympics New Zealand held a Have-A-Go Sports Session at Dunstan High School encouraging people with intellectual disabilities to give something new a try.
About 20 participants from throughout the region took part in the fun-focused day playing indoor bowls and table tennis.
Special Olympics lower South Island regional sports co-ordinator Chris Moffitt said the event was an important opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to strengthen their mental and physical health.
‘‘Being able to access [sport] is quite important for that social engagement aspect and the physical and mental wellbeing as well,’’ Mr Moffitt said.
‘‘[Participating] in mainstream sports is great, but it’s also good to be able just to play at a level you’re comfortable with.’’
Such an event gave participants a chance to get together with like-minded people of a similar ability.
‘‘It’s a great environment to do that in,’’ Mr Moffitt said.
‘‘That’s what we try . . .and foster here. We try and encourage people in these local groups to come along and participate.’’
Mr Moffitt described these as sports that anyone of any ability could take part in.
The sessions had run in the school holidays for the last two and a-half years.
He said while Central Otago had not had a Special Olympics club for many years there were still ways for people to be involved.
‘‘There are ways to be involved in Special Olympics even though we don’t have a club up in Central Otago now.
‘‘We’ve been trying to help these guys . . .to have some form of taster and a way that they might be able to participate back in the Special Olympics movement again.’’
The recent triumph of New Zealand athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Germany last month helped raise the profile of the Special Olympics, Mr Moffitt said.
‘‘The success the New Zealand team had in Berlin [has] been fantastic.
‘‘To see how [the athletes have] done and the enjoyment it’s brought to them, it’s been really great for athletes, potential athletes and the general public,’’ he said.