Shoko Maeda’s passion for promoting wellbeing, harmony and social inclusion through sport and recreational activities has made her a much-valued and admired member of her adopted local community.
Originally from Japan, Shoko organises and participates in a number of events for Harbour Sport, a community-based organisation dedicated to enriching the local community through greater physical awareness and activity.
“Harbour Sport is at the forefront of physical wellbeing teaching in the North Harbour region and this is what inspired me to get involved,” says Shoko, who has a Masters degree in sports science.
“Sport brings people together and encourages wellbeing.”
Shoko organises and participates in the following activities: Active Families, a program that helps children and their families develop better eating habits and lead an active lifestyle; Retirement Villages Exercises, which encourages the elderly to be more active; and Early Childhood Fundamental Movement Skills, which teaches young children basic movement skills essential for development.
She has also organised an internship program for Japanese and other international students to learn about the educational and cultural differences between New Zealand, Japan and other countries with regard to physical well-being and diversity in sport.
Shoko’s energy levels have helped her to forge meaningful connections with people from all ages, ethnicities and cultures, and she has been particularly inspirational in getting new immigrants to participate in events, which helps them discover their new surroundings and reduces their sense of social isolation.
Shoko is deeply touched to be a Westfield Local Hero. “Harbour Sport constantly strives to get more people involved in physical activity to improve their quality of life so it’s crucial to the community’s wellbeing. I am so excited about what I can do to give back to our local community. This has inspired me to do more and I’m confident I can live up to this recognition,” she says.
“I am overwhelmed by the warmth of the local people, which has further reinforced my decision to move to New Zealand.”
Harbour Sport will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to develop its internship program for international students who find it hard to connect with their new environment.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.