Special Olympics club a community winner

Craig Torrance and Carol Melville, of Special Olympics New Zealand Otago Club, with the...
Craig Torrance and Carol Melville, of Special Olympics New Zealand Otago Club, with the TrustPower Community Supreme Award they won at a function in the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin last night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The TrustPower Dunedin Community Supreme Award was presented to one of Dunedin's "quiet achievers" last night.

The Special Olympics New Zealand Otago Club received the award at a function in the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin last night, for its fundraising efforts to send an athlete to the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, in the United States.

It also trained, qualified and raised funds for 34 athletes and 13 coaches to attend the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games in Palmerston North last December.

TrustPower community relations representative Melanie Tavendale said the club was "one of those quiet achievers" and, thanks to its volunteers, many members of the community were opening their minds, and learning to accept and include people with an intellectual disability.

"By bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities, this group is breaking down barriers and changing attitudes."

The club was one of 63 groups nominated for this year's awards, and now it has the opportunity to represent the district at the 2010 TrustPower National Community Awards in March 2011.

In conjunction with the TrustPower Community Awards, the Youth Community Award was presented to Kavanagh College head boy Ben Ahdar.

The award recognised Ben's service to his school and the community.

Ben has served as class leader, class councillor, house leader, peer mentor and peer support leader, and he took part in the Survive a Slum by sleeping in cardboard boxes with eight other pupils to raise money for Caritas.

Outside school, Ben is also a camp leader for the Edmond Rice Camping Movement.

Mrs Tavendale said Ben was a modest achiever who played an incredible number of roles in both his school and the wider community.

"Ben's commitment to others is outstanding, and makes him the perfect role model.

"He is an excellent ambassador for his school and the Dunedin community, and very deserving of this award," she said.

Other winners were:

Heritage and environment: Rotary Club of Dunedin, 1; Fort Taiaroa Education and Resource Group, 2; Strath Taieri Historical Society, commendation.

Health and wellbeing: Blue Ribbon Girls, 1; Mosgiel-Taieri Community Patrol, 2; Rotary Club of St Kilda and SuperGrans Dunedin Charitable Trust, commendation.

Arts and culture: Otago School of Piping and Drumming, 1; Taieri Dramatic Society, 2; Artsenta and Otago Arts Society, commendation.

Sport and leisure: Special Olympics NZ Otago Club, 1; Mountain Biking Otago, 2.

Educational and child/youth development: Warrington Surf Lifesaving Club, 1; Taieri Parents Centre, 2; Queen's High School, commendation.

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