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Rebecca's Story

Special Olympics medal-winning athlete Rebecca Heath is 37 years of age. She has been supported by CCS Disability Action since she was a baby and has had several support workers partner with her over this time. She is a competitive person driven to train and work for her success.

"I just go for what is out there for me and I don’t let my disability stop me. I’m the type of person that’s just willing to give everything a go."

Rebecca has competed at national and international levels for over 20 years, in both swimming and skiing. Now she is training to compete in the precision sport of golf at this year’s Special Olympics to be held in Hamilton in December.

The Lower Hutt athlete has qualified for her sixth Special Olympics, but this December will be the first time she will swap swimming and skiing for golf. She picked it up during the 2020 lockdown at the suggestion of her support worker.

"I like golf, it's a new skill and it's outside," Rebecca said. "My dad plays, and my first aim is to beat him."

Rebecca had a tough start in life with doctors telling her parents at birth that she would most likely never walk or talk. But instead, she’s spent her life giving everything a go having attended five national games, two trans-Tasman tournaments, and the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria. Special Olympics is a community movement that began in the United States in the 1960s. Organisers aim to create an inclusive space for people with learning and physical disabilities so that they can freely participate in sport.

"I tell others, you just have to go for it. Go for gold, whatever you want to achieve just go for it."

Rebecca works full-time as a Teacher Aide at Wellington High School. She has worked there for 16 years. After work, Rebecca goes to the gym and trains. She also works out on the weekends. She loves it and dedicates all her spare time to her sport training. Rebecca started intensive training on the golf course in late January with the rest of her 3-member golfing team.

"We train all through the year, we don’t get a break, only at Christmas time. It’s full-on."

CCS Disability Action Community Support Worker, Nury Olivares has supported Rebecca since 2013 and she visits her twice every week. Nury goes with Rebecca to the gym and supports her to maintain her independence by assisting with things like bill payments. Rebecca says the support from CCS Disability Action goes beyond her daily tasks though and encourages her to plan her future sporting moves. "The support from CCS Disability Action gives me an idea of what to do next in my sporting journey and my career, it’s like having added guidance."

"Rebecca is a lovely, very independent, and organised type of person who gives everything a go", says Nury. "During the COVID-19 lockdowns she has been isolated and without her usual routine, so I called her regularly to talk and play quizzes. What impresses me most about Rebecca is how organised and determined she is. She doesn’t give up and has a fantastic positive outlook. She will always be competing; I can’t see her ever doing nothing."

Rebecca’s greatest inspiration was her younger sister Lora who died of breast cancer four years ago. "Rebecca would not be where she is today without Lora," says mum Glennis. "They had a very special connection. Lora was Rebecca’s strength and motivation."

But even the loss of her much-loved sister has not stopped Rebecca. She says, "Lora’s watching me Mum, I have to go faster!".

"You only live once," says Rebecca. "You have to do as much as you possibly can in one lifetime."

With your support, disabled people like Rebecca have more opportunity to reach their goals, develop their skills and really shine.

Donate to CCS Disability Action today.

"I just go for what is out there for me and I don’t let my disability stop me. I’m the type of person that’s just willing to give everything a go."

Rebecca
Rebecca 2

"I tell others, you just have to go for it. Go for gold, whatever you want to achieve just go for it."

"What impresses me most about Rebecca is how organised and determined she is. She doesn’t give up and has a fantastic positive outlook. She will always be competing; I can’t see her ever doing nothing."

Rebecca 3
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