Swimming success for Deshan

Deshan with coach Shelley Blair

Updated 30 July 2018 – Deshan’s been selected to represent New Zealand at the 2019 Special Olympic Games in Abu Dhabi from 14-21 March. He’s currently fundraising to meet the cost of attending the Games. If you’d like to support Deshan’s campaign, visit his Give A Little page here.

Deshan Walallavita hasn’t rested on his laurels since he appeared in the Spring issue of Infolink when he was named a top-10 finalist in the IHC Art Awards (see story below).

Deshan headed to Wellington for the 2017 National Summer Games hosted by Special Olympics New Zealand from 27 November to 1 December.

While there he picked up a swag of swimming medals, placing first in the 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle and 4x50m medley relay events. He also placed fourth in the 100m individual medley.

“It was an incredible four-day event and we are so proud of his efforts,” said Deshan’s sister, Anu.

Anu thanked Honey Hireme and Betty Smith from Life Unlimited Community Services for their support and credited coach Shelly Blair for Deshan’s success in the pool.

Deshan Walallavita receiving one of his three first-place medals at the Special Olympics National Summer Games.


Deshan’s award-winning art journey

4 September 2017 – Proof that Hamilton’s Deshan Walallavita is rapidly exploring his full potential as an artist came last week (30 August) when he was a top 10 finalist in the IHC Art Awards.

Deshan Walallavita’s highly-commended artwork entitled ‘Self-portrait with my medals’ sold for $535

The first people he and his family wanted to thank were the teams at Life Unlimited Community Services and Enabling Good Lives.

Deshan, 22, who has high-functioning autism attended Patricia Avenue School and late last year was ready to put his school days behind him and work towards adulthood and being independent.

Life Unlimited community support manager Honey Hireme said when Deshan started on the Transition programme, the team worked on goal planning and connected him with a number of community activities and programmes.

One of those was the Sandz Art Gallery where Deshan’s talent became obvious.

“Deshan is a great young man who gives 100 percent in everything he does. He enjoys art, sports and being with his family.

“We are so proud of what he’s done,” says Honey.

It was Sandz Art Gallery who entered one of Deshan’s art works in the competition which attracted nearly 400 entries.

He was highly commended and IHC flew him and support persons to Wellington for the awards at Shed 6 on the Wellington Waterfront.

His art sold for $535.

Wellington-based artist Emma Lou won the awards and with it $5000 with her finely detailed pastel drawing, self titled Emma Lou. Second prize of $2000 went to Wellington artist and 2016 winner Jo-Anne Tapiki for her tapestry work Kiwiana and third prize of $1000 was won by Cherie Mellsopp of Hamilton for her drawing Jade on Black.

Hamilton artist Julian Godfery won the People’s Choice award for his work Invisible Magic.

Entries included sculptures, installations and textile art, painting and drawing. The IHC Art Awards are open to all New Zealanders with an intellectual disability, age 13 or over, whether or not they use IHC services.

The finalists’ work was auctioned at the event with all proceeds from the sales going solely to the artists.

Life Unlimited’s Transition programme is a process that occurs for young people who are in their last years of high school and preparing to move on. The aim is to move students smoothly into post-school education, employment and/or community services and activities.

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of our free disability e-newsletter Infolink. Read or sign up to receive Infolink here.