New Para Sport Champions coming soon to New Zealand's primary schools. PARALYMPICS NZ

Harvey Norman Para Sport Champions are Paralympians and Para athletes who challenge perceptions of disability by sharing their lived experiences and Para sport journeys, while highlighting the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

The Para Sport Champions initiative is part of Seeing is Believing, the Paralympic Education Programme. It was created by Paralympics New Zealand and is being piloted with the support of long-term PNZ partner Harvey Norman. 

Harvey Norman's GM of Computers Mobile & Technology Division, Paul Keenihan, is delighted that the initiative is extending its reach. "Each Para Sport Champion has their own uplifting determination to succeed, and their own incredible story to tell. We could not be more proud to help these stories reach the Kiwis who need to hear them," he said. 

Following the impact the initiative had on the schools they visited during the pilot, PNZ is delighted to announce an extension. "You can see on the children's faces how inspiring it is to meet a Paralympian in person. When combined with learning about disability and inclusion through the lens of the Paralympic Movement, it's even more meaningful. At Paralympics New Zealand we're so thrilled to be making this announcement, six months ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games," said PNZ CEO Greg Warnecke.

New Zealand does a great job of promoting inclusion and diversity. PARALYMPICS NZ
New Zealand does a great job of promoting inclusion and diversity. PARALYMPICS NZ

New Zealand schools participating in 'Seeing is Believing', the Paralympic Education Programme, have the opportunity to request a Para Sport Champion to visit their school. Seeing is Believing takes young learners on a journey where they are challenged to take steps towards growing a more inclusive Aotearoa, starting in their own school and community. 

The resources are aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum and are aimed at years 1-6. The resources include lesson plans, activity guides, worksheets, and quizzes, and are free for teachers and schools to use. Para sports champion and Paralympic shot putter Caitlin Dore has been involved with the project since its inception. She feels strongly about the importance of taking her message to primary schools. 

"For Tamariki, it's powerful because they are now forming their views about society and the kind of world they want to live in. Meeting a Paralympian or Para athlete helps them to articulate their values around disability and inclusion." Tamariki is a way of referring to children in the Maori, one of New Zealand's official languages.

Para athletes visit schools across New Zealand. PARALYMPICS NZ
Para athletes visit schools across New Zealand. PARALYMPICS NZ

Teachers, home schoolers, parents and others wishing to find out more can sign up free of charge at The newly announced Para Sport Champions are (Para Sport Champions/Para Sport/Region):

-Bailley Unahi: Para alpine skiing (Otago).

-Caitlin Dore: Para athletics (Canterbury).

-Danielle Aitchison: Para athletics (Waikato).

-Devon Briggs: Para cycling (Waikato).

-Gareth Lynch: Wheelchair rugby (Auckland).

-Hamish McLean: Para swimming (Auckland).

-Holly Robinson: Para athletics (Otago).

-Jaden Movold: Para athletics (Auckland).

-Joe Smith: Para athletics (Auckland).

-Kate Horan: Para cycling (Wellington)

-Kurt Peterson: Para triathlon (Auckland).

-Mike Todd: Wheelchair rugby (Canterbury).

-Mitch Joynt: Para athletics (Auckland).

-Peter Cowan: Para canoe (Hawkes Bay).

-Rachel Maia: Para climbing (Whanganui).

-Sarah Ellington: Para cycling (West Coast).

-Scott Martlew: Para canoe (Canterbury).

-Siobhan Terry: Para cycling (Bay of Plenty).

-William Stedman: Para athletics (Canterbury).

-Wojtek Czyz: Para badminton (Waikato).