Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Be very, very touched

Eighteen young men and women with intellectual disabilities grasped every ounce of courage they had to enter the Rotary Best Speaker Awards.

Running it for the second year, Plimmerton Rotary held Wellington heats as well as the National Finals on Saturday 28 May 2016. The heats for the Wellington participants took place in the morning and the top three place-getters were chosen to enter the finals in the afternoon. They were joined by a further five from the North and South Island who had already got through their regional heats.

A video of the whole event is available on request, but in the meantime, this 6 minute extract will give you a taste of the pride, astonishment, humility and amazement we all experienced as we laughed at their creativity and cried as we got a taste of the mountains they all have to climb.

This initiative was originally sparked by a small paragraph in Rotary Down Under in 2014 about a fledgling Lincoln Rotary Youth Project - a public speaking opportunity for young folk aged 16–30 with an intellectual disability.

The Plimmerton Rotary Youth Committee, spearheaded by Julie McLagan, picked up the idea and ran a successful pilot in 2015. Feedback was so positive and encouraging from participants, their families and support workers, that the club has now taken on this project as an important part of its annual programme. “I know that such projects do Rotary proud!” said Julie.

The whole day was a very happy success. Each participant was presented with a framed Certificate of Merit. There were trophies and prize money for each of the national place-getters.

The project was fully sponsored by local businesses. Tommy’s Real Estate picked up the main costs. One parent said, “Many thanks to you, your team, and Rotary for the wonderful speech competition held this afternoon. We were very impressed with everybody we met and with the obvious effort that you had all gone to, to make it such a special occasion. The corsages were a lovely touch, as were the name tags, the generous afternoon tea, the technical support, the various roles you all played, not to mention the very generous prizes.”

The eventual winner, Katrina Sneath from Johnsonville, Wellington, is pictured here. She has quite recently been appointed a Youth Parliamentarian and is already very proactive in her role.

The second place-getter was Jeremy McKenzie from Whakatane (pictured here). He talked about his passion for geography.

Samuel Goddard from Christchurch was placed third. He told us that he has Aspergers and that his dream is to become independent.

His mother said, “…It really was very special and lovely to see these young adults being given an opportunity to shine. I know Sam has gained so much confidence from the whole experience.”
Editor’s note: You can read the article about Samuel that appeared in the New Zealand Herald on 10 May here.
The feedback has been amazing and very humbling. Here are just a very few extracts from the many we received …
“…One of the outcomes we would all like is for our young people with disabilities to be fully integrated into the community. This competition is one way of contributing to that end and illustrating just what these young people are capable of. Our community is all the better for it.”
“…Thank you again for giving Matthew this opportunity. His confidence has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. Starjam are doing a story on him. It is our wish that his story will give hope to other families whose children are diagnosed autistic. He entered the competition to boost his confidence as he is going to be best man at his brother's wedding early next year.  He tells me his speech is going to be awesome - and I am sure it is."
“Thank you for giving me a privileged opportunity. It was awesome listening to all the other contestants.”

“I made myself come,” said a participant who arrived knowing no-one. And as she left, her parting words were, “It was the best day! I loved it.”

“Before this he didn’t say much. We couldn’t not come. It has been the making of him!” said a beaming father of a family of four who all flew up from Christchurch for the day to support their son/brother.

 “I felt so humbled by the experience.  I had tears in my eyes, the experience was beautiful and the recognition and opportunity given to these young people just can't be expressed in words,” said a Rotarian spectator.

“We’re already planning for next year. It will be bigger and better from us,” said the organiser and co-ordinator from the Bay of Plenty

It was such a happy result that each participating area had a place-getter in the Finals, even though that is one aspect we could not have organised! It was a great day! Certificates and trophies were clutched close. The smiles were huge, the hugs many and warm.

Before concluding the day with a scrumptious afternoon tea, we were entertained by StarJam, a not for profit organisation that empowers young New Zealanders with disabilities to achieve their full potential through music and performance workshops.

The next step is to spread the word to Rotary Clubs throughout New Zealand to widen the opportunity for many more IHC youth by having more regional heats. Julie McLagan will be glad to hear from anyone around the country who’d like to be involved next year. You can contact her here.

“Hopefully next year many more Rotary Clubs New Zealand-wide will support this very worthwhile project and more young people will be encouraged to take part”, she said. "We can make such a difference in the lives of the participants and their families.

“Rotary has the power to dip deep into the community to harness resources and to really make a difference. I was so happy to see this opportunity to help others in society where there is a need. I am fully aware that, like many others, our contribution will only be a drop in the ocean. However, as Mother Teresa said, ‘Without that drop, the ocean will never be full.’ That is why I am a Rotarian.”

Reprinted on request from the Plimmerton Rotary blog

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Words: Dave Woodhouse, Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ
Surely what must be one of the simplest and yet most effective ways of raising awareness and fundraising is the Savealife Rotary project which is administered by the Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ.
It all started in 2015 when two enterprising Rotarians, John Dentice and Brian Rickard from Palmerston North, NZ saw an opportunity for selling capsule keyrings. The big difference was that each capsule was to contain a 300mg soluble aspirin which could be used if someone was experiencing signs of a heart attack. The simple act of chewing that aspirin, or having it dissolve if placed under the tongue, may help to keep that person alive for up to what the paramedics call 'The Golden Hour' - that being the time between having the attack and the paramedics arriving on the scene and transporting the patient to hospital. John and Brian explored all the aspects of this idea and soon had the backing of medical consultants.
All the components were sourced, the capsules were filled and bagged and the big sell began! Pretty soon, it became obvious that this idea was going to be bigger than they imagined and, after a fortuitous meeting at a trade show with Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise President Ron Fyfe, a collaboration was deemed necessary in order to roll out the project to a wider network. Thus, Tauranga Sunrise Rotary took over the national distribution of the capsules (originally named ‘Lifesavers’, subsequently re-branded to 'Savealife').
The early days were tentative as we tested the market and introduced three different selling tiers:
Retail :                $NZ4 (No minimum)
Retailers:             $3 (100 minimum)
Rotary clubs:      $2 (100 minimum)
All prices include Goods and Services Tax (GST)
It quickly became apparent that the best way to publicise the project was to encourage other Rotary clubs to take over distribution for their respective areas by whatever means they saw fit, thereby making a $2 profit on each one they sell at retail level. The tiered selling also allowed for clubs to make a $1 profit if they on sold to retailers.
Rotary clubs in District 9930 joined in initially and then the word got round, so we started getting enquiries from clubs further afield. We also saw a niche market which gave the opportunity for enterprising companies to purchase the capsules as a corporate giveaway with their own logo and contact details – for this we charge a $1 per unit premium. 
Website was launched with further information on the project and a contact form.
Orders soon started rolling in, especially with companies seeing the value of being part of such a caring and potentially life-saving project. Pdf images are always supplied for approval prior to manufacture.
Home shows, women's expos and other trade shows were very successful, with very few refusals, so the next stage was to run a newspaper promotion. The publishers needed no encouragement to feature the capsules on pages 1,2 and 3 of their free edition Bay of Plenty Times and orders followed thick and fast. A call by one of our founding members to the Newstalk ZB radio studio (following a feature on defibrillators) saw enquiries from all over New Zealand and further afield.
Our mission statement is to encourage as many people to have a Savealife capsule on their keyring. It is perhaps surprising – and not a little scary – that we are receiving regular reports and stories of people who had had to use their capsule. Incidentally, each sale is accompanied by a purse or wallet sized card which gives all details in relation to procedure, not the least of which is checking for the existence of a MedicAlert medical identity bracelet or necklace and, of course, to dial 111 emergency service. In the vast majority of cases, the paramedics have asked the caller, “Does anyone have an aspirin with them?”
As a club, we feel that we are only just scratching the surface of this great fundraiser, especially as ALL the profit that we make goes back into the community and even after the first eight months, this is proving to be a significant sum, so we encourage any other clubs to contact us to help fulfil our dream while saving lives.
Internationally, there is the opportunity for our Rotarian friends across the Tasman to participate and, whilst we are not able to export filled with aspirin capsules, we are actively seeking national distribution partners to work towards a mutually beneficial end.
Interested? For more information, please contact Savealife Project Coordinator Dave Woodhouse via +64 27 513 2345 or email
Is $4 a fair price to pay for the potential of saving a life?  We think so.