Ainie Kwok created and lead the first "Breaking Barriers" Disability Day as a new District 9920 Youth programme, and what an amazing day that was.  Above you can see some of the participants flying their self-made kites.  Each disabled person was matched with a Rotaractor or a RYLA alumni, and they all had a wonderful experience.  St Johns Rotary assisted in a number of ways.  The full story written by Ainie is below.  A picture tells a thousand words so a carousel of pictures is HERE.
Rotary District 9920 held the first “Breaking Barriers Disability Day” at Sacred Heart College on 8 October 2022. This is a pilot program and was organized by the District Youth Team of Peter Ross, George Wilson and Ainie Kwok.
The idea of a day program was conceived early in the year, with ideas on how the program would work. This was also based on the World Bank Group Report in Dec 2021 “Breaking Barriers” for 85 million disabled people.
People with disabilities should be able to participate fully in public life, without suffering any discrimination or marginalization in schools or workplaces.  Exclusion impacts not only them and their families, but society as a whole.  In economic terms alone, available global data suggests that the exclusion of people with disabilities represents a loss to countries of between 3 and 7 percent of GDP.
Discussions and ideas came from various sectors in the community including Disability Connect (; John Burton, Rotary Club of Newmarket (, Cam Colkean (, various Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education specialist teachers and Paula Tesoriero, chief executive of the new Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People.
We had 21 registered participants and 19 mentors/buddies RYLArians and Rotarians with backup assistance on the day from RC of Papatoetoe Central, Drury, Papakura, St Johns, Auckland Airport & Newmarket.
We had the most beautiful weather any event organiser could wish for – especially perfect for the kite flying time straight after the session of kite making.  The morning started slowly with participants warming up to the Day and their matched buddy for the program. Steve, our facilitator taught us the hand & eye coordination, followed by adding the foot work before breaking the group into 4 and each of group practicing their new learned dance movement.
The highlight for everyone was the kite making session. This session invoked childhood memories especially for me.  Each of the participants and their mentors made their own kite, decorated it and all of us got to fly our kite!! It was the most rewarding session for me, seeing the smiles, hearing the laughter from everyone.  The wind was just perfect, light enough to keep the kites soaring high, dry ground and sun shining… it was a perfect spring activity.
We had 3 guest speakers lined up for the day. Di Morris, from Geneva Healthcare ( spoke about transitioning from high school to next stage in life, be it higher education, work programs and other possibilities.
We had Jenna Baxter, Inclusion Advisor for Disability, Aktive ( The focus for the organisation is connecting and supporting disability sport and recreation sector to improve physical activity outcomes, and participation opportunities for disabled youth. It was a robust and engaging presentation with many of the participants and mentors stopping to chat with her after with more questions.
Mike Potter, CEO Disability Connect ( spent a bit of time with us as well as being a sounding board for the pilot program.
George Wilson, RC Papakura, with help from Drury and Papatoetoe Central, got the sausages going throughout the day, and fed and hydrated all of us.  We had outside catering for the participants as well as those with dietary requirements. We allowed a bit more time for everyone to get to know each other, chill and basically connect and socialise.  
Peter Ross, District Chair for Youth, was on hand to greet the RYLArian mentor/buddies in the morning. It was great for us to see members from RC St Johns (Lesley & Gary), RC Auckland Airport, Matt Koshy, Riet & Peter Van De Gilk (RC Drury), Kulbir Singh (RC Papatoetoe Central) on BBQ duty with George & Peter Van De Gilk.  Last but not least, thank you DG Allan & Sue Smith for taking time out from your busy schedule to spend time talking to the RYLArians, participants and sharing your time with us.
The Sacred Heart College community (student Louie Gervarra) and Verna (parent) came early in the morning to help with the setup, and Louie was always on hand to help throughout the day.
Theret was a fierce competition of wheelchair basketball and basketball drills that was organised by Jaden.   Jaden Movold, was our keynote speaker in the afternoon. Jaden is a young promising athlete and is part of the young leaders of tomorrow affecting change for the disabled community through their advocacy at grassroot levels and sporting levels. Jaden holds a number of NZ record in athletics. Look out for Jaden in the near future as one of the rising stars of NZ Paralympics.
It was a great day, a beautiful day and what is more rewarding than hearing the laughter, the smiles from everyone sighing with exhaustion from a day well spent connecting with people. All of us were out of our comfort zone and by the end of the day, the zone was larger and it included people who we would have not otherwise met in our daily lives. This day would not have been possible without the most awesome bunch of young buddies/mentors from different RYLA cohorts, as well as young Rotarians from Auckland Airport & Newmarket.
The last words from Grace Cussell, putting us all in the good space with our end of day reflection ”keep doing stop doing and start doing”.
“Krystal Hinks (Maclean Centre, Mt Roskill Grammar School) enjoyed it so much and enjoyed spending time with her buddy Ella's” – Del Gurnick (parent)
“Morena Ainie, I just want to say a big thank you for allowing Fetu'u (Ormiston Junior College) to attend the event on Saturday. It was the first disability event he has attended, and he absolutely loved it. He said his helper Alex was awesome. So a big thank you from our family. Hope you have a great day. “ Nga mihi - Gemma Ikahihifo