An innovative approach to identify and overcome the barriers for non-participating students by Sport Wellington's Wairarapa team has been recognised with a New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council (NZSSSC) Innovation in Sport Award.
Sport Wellington Wairarapa, in collaboration with Chanel, Makoura and Wairarapa colleges, undertook a project to engage non-participants into school sport.
Survey results identified participant needs, barriers to sporting participation and activities that non-participants wanted to try.
A programme was then implemented to meet the needs and address the barriers, providing new opportunities in archery, 10-pin bowling and smallbore rifle shooting.
The result was that the central locations, minimal costs, friendly environments and non-competitive, high engagement opportunities resulted in a large number of new sport participants and big increases in junior club memberships in the three sports.
Sport Wellington Wairarapa regional director of sport Dayle Clarkson said: "The award is a testament to the collaborative work of schools, sport and the Wairarapa community."
A key focus for the three colleges was to provide their students with the opportunity to experience the benefits of school sport through a targeted approach which had led to many of these students becoming involved in other sporting opportunities during the year.
"It is also important to acknowledge the clubs and their volunteers, who provided the perfect environment for these students to feel at ease and engaged," Clarkson said.
Makoura College sport co-ordinator Sydney Cunningham said sport participation had grown significantly at the college during the past 12 months. Students, who initially weren't interested in giving sport a go, were rushing into the school hall for organised lunchtime activities, and were initiating and supervising their own competitions.
Garry Carnachan, executive director of NZSSSC, said: "The awards are a way of acknowledging the great work that is carried out through secondary school sport. The NZSSSC congratulates Sport Wellington Wairarapa on their successful initiative and on the award."
The Wairarapa region is recognised as having the highest participation in college sport in New Zealand.