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Jocelyn Sweney

Over the past 27 years Jocelyn Sweney provided outstanding volunteer sports administration to Special Olympics New Zealand and pioneered ways of promoting the organisation in new parts of the country.

While living in Taranaki in 1985 Jocelyn arranged the first meeting in New Plymouth for what would become the Special Olympics North Taranaki Club. Later that year she led efforts to take the Club’s first team to Hawke’s Bay to compete in the Regional Games.
In 1990, Jocelyn relocated with her family to Auckland and, while she took a break from directly being involved in day-to-day sports competition with Special Olympics, she always kept in touch with people she had volunteered with throughout the country (athletes and other volunteers alike).
While working as a senior special needs teacher at Mt Richmond School and then Assistant Principal at Oakland Special School in Auckland, Joce saw that the Special Olympics Auckland Club was in recess and realised her potential athletes were missing out. So Jocelyn stepped back into the administration side of Special Olympics, took the club by the reigns and led its resurrection. Today Special Olympics Auckland is now one of the largest and most active Clubs in New Zealand with 141 athletes training across five sports.
What stood Jocelyn apart from many other volunteers was her desire to think outside the square. She wanted her athletes to “enjoy social experiences just like everyone else and to have a night out like their peers”. Accordingly Joce always looked for fundraising ventures where athletes were put in a social setting such as “Walk in the Park”, movie nights or fundraising at the races, rather than holding a standard sausage sizzle.
Jocelyn’s motivation to assist athletes with intellectual disability came from her passion to make a positive difference in the lives of others. She developed an incredible affinity with children and adults with special needs even though she initially trained as a mainstream primary teacher. The positive difference she made to each and everyone she touched and her desire to passionately help others through sport never waned. 

Sadly Jocelyn passed away on 17 February 2015, after bravely battling an illness for just over a year.

Thank you for your contribution Joce. Our thoughts are with your family and friends.
Our Valued Supporters

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