In 2015 Jaden Movold won the AIMES Junior Excellence Award for Services to the Community. As part of our feature looking at what has happened to a number of past winners, Christine Young caught up with Jaden and what he’s achieved over the past few years – as well as what his ambitions are for the future.
Christine Young: What excites you about the many activities it is you are involved in and in particular those where you contribute in some way to the community?
Jaden Movold: I love being busy and getting involved with things that are important to me and make a difference in the world around me. Aside from all my sports activities (swimming, triathlons, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair track racing) and school commitments, I hold the title of Youth Ambassador to three very important community-focused charities: The Yes Disability Resource Centre, Achilles International NZ, and The Jonesy Youth Foundation. Whether it is fundraising or raising more awareness of organisations that support people who face challenges in their lives, I love being involved.
At Rangitoto College, I am involved in a Leadership Committee which centres around the pastoral care of the student community. It is enjoyable being a part of a group that is all about student well-being and raising awareness of issues such as mental health. I am also involved with the annual Pink Shirt Day initiative, as well as other school events throughout the year.
CY: Why did you apply for an AIMES award?
JM: I was encouraged to apply for a Junior AIMES award to not just be recognised for all that I do but to also allow people to see that having a disability does not need to prevent you from making a difference in your community.
CY: Please tell us your reaction when you learned you had won the award? What opportunities did winning it offer to you?
JM: I could not believe that out of so many young talented people, I was awarded the Junior AIMES Award for Service to the Community. I was excited, surprised, happy and proud!
I believe winning the award has opened up more opportunities for me to continue to change attitudes in our society about those who live with disabilities. Being a part of the AIMES Alumni has given me access to a huge network of amazing people.
Winning the award has also provided me with more support in continuing with my passion to help others and continue to pursue my sporting goals. In 2017, I was awarded a New Zealand Youth Award for Community Contribution and at the end of 2018, I won the prestigious national Attitude Youth Spirit Award.
CY: Since winning, has your community/sports /academic focus shifted? We’ve noticed that you describe yourself as ambassador, advocate, athlete – does this mean your focus has broadened since 2015? If so, why?
JM: I have always had quite a broad focus, getting involved in community work as well as pursuing my sporting goals. While I still keep a strong ongoing involvement with my ambassador roles, I would say that on the sporting front, I have turned things up a notch. I currently train 7.5 hours a week in the pool, 5-6 hours a week on the basketball court, and 1.5 hours a week on the athletics track. I compete regularly in local and regional swim meets and wheelchair basketball competitions. I also represent my school in swimming and athletics, and this year became the very first para-triathlete to compete at the Auckland College Sports Triathlon Champs.
Also, last year I joined Auckland’s only inclusive hip-hop dance crew. We practice weekly and have performed at dance festivals, inclusive shows, Christmas parties and later this year will compete at a hip-hop dance competition
CY: How have you continued to work to develop your skills?
JM: I work hard towards achieving the goals I set out to achieve. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my abilities and develop new skills. On the community front, I get involved with new initiatives at school which helps me meet new people and relate more to those in my community. On the sporting front, I have been steadily moving past recreational involvement to the more focused and involved competitive training programs which have long term goals.
CY: What are your long-term ambitions?
JM: Over the long-term, I hope to qualify for the Paralympics and represent New Zealand in either swimming or wheelchair track racing. I continue to train hard in all my sports, knowing that a full-on commitment and dedication is the key to reaching the top. Career-wise, I am really interested in pursuing social work as I love helping others.
In the near future, I have the ambition to become Head Boy of Rangitoto College, to successfully complete 30 Weet-Bix Tryathlons before I turn 16 and in a few weeks I will be competing at the New Zealand Swimming Open Championships. I also look forward to continuing my various ambassador roles and being a role model for all young people, such as public speaking when I have time in my busy schedule!
Overall, it is my passion and ambition to strive to continue to change people’s perceptions of disability, so society focuses on what we can do and how we can contribute, and not on what we can’t do.