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Spirit Supports Breast Cancer Battlers

Monday, 4 December 2006

Spirit Supports Breast Cancer Battlers

Sovereign Spirit's contribution kick starts the YWCA Encore breast cancer programme in Rotorua

Fifty-six women in Rotorua and Tauranga, who are rebuilding their lives after battling breast cancer, will benefit from an $11,753 contribution from Sovereign Spirit to the YWCA Encore programme in Rotorua.

Sovereign staff voted for the Rotorua YWCA to receive the sponsorship from the Spirit programme, which is a community not-for-profit sponsorship initiative. The funding has enabled the Rotorua YWCA to launch its inaugural Encore Programme, designed to assist women who have undergone breast cancer surgery to regain their mobility, flexibility and self confidence through exercise, emotional rehabilitation and support.

Wai Kameta, Manager of YWCA Rotorua Incorporated, said that Sovereign's invaluable contribution will help alleviate the pressure of finding funding and resources so they can purely focus on helping to rebuild these women's lives and self-confidence.

"When I received the call from Sovereign, I was over the moon. The women involved in Encore have experienced difficulties that people who haven't had breast cancer are unable to begin to imagine. The programme gives them a chance to share their stories, be open and frank with one another and do so in a nurturing and positive environment," she says.

The YWCA Encore Programme has developed an exercise programme specifically designed to rehabilitate the upper body (the upper body experiences great trauma with breast cancer surgery). Much of the exercises are completed in a heated pool, for additional comfort and support to the muscles. The classes also involve gentle gym exercises and time for the women to get together, share their stories and listen to guest speakers who range from grief counsellors and prosthetic specialists to wig fitters.

Many women experience similar troubles to Sally, who underwent a mastectomy a year ago. She subsequently had a lot of trouble moving her upper body and experienced ongoing health issues relating to the operation. Since taking part in Encore, her mobility and flexibility have improved and her self-confidence has been boosted through the constant support she receives from the other women involved in the programme.

Mr Vena Crawley, Head of Marketing and Product Management at Sovereign, says he is pleased that Sovereign's contribution is going to support so many women on their road to recovery from breast cancer.

"All of these women will have faced difficulties in their challenge to overcome breast cancer, as will their loved ones, so we're delighted to be able to support them," says Mr Crawley.

"The motivation for the Sovereign Spirit programme is to uncover and support not-for-profits that are working hard at a community level to assist everyday New Zealanders in living healthy and driven lives. The YWCA Encore Programme personifies this perfectly," Mr Crawley adds.

Each year, more than 2,000 women in New Zealand are diagnosed with breast cancer, a staggering number that will invariably affect many more people by proxy. The risk of developing breast cancer at some stage during a woman's life is one in ten. The risk factor increases with age, with approximately 70 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in women 50 years of age and over.

YWCA Encore was first launched in August 2005 by the Auckland YWCA and is now spreading to other centres around the country.

-Ends-

About Sovereign Spirit Sovereign Spirit is a unique sponsorship initiative where employees at Sovereign get the chance to select 12 different non-profit organisations working in health and wellbeing across New Zealand in a calendar year.

Each month, Sovereign Spirit moves around the country to a new region calling for non-profit organisations to put their names forward. The final decision on which organisation is supported each month is made by Sovereign employees, who take part in an online vote. Once a non-profit is selected, Sovereign employees get behind that cause by raising funds and dressing in smart-casual on Spirit Day. As well as providing a $10,000 contribution, Sovereign matches each dollar donated by staff on Spirit Day. In 2006 Sovereign Spirit will be supporting 12 regions in New Zealand, with two in the month of May.

To date Sovereign has supported 23 non-profit organisations across New Zealand through the Sovereign Spirit sponsorship, with a total contribution of over $253,000.

For more information on Sovereign Spirit please visit: www.sovereign.co.nz/sovereignspirit

ENDS

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