Twenty participants take the challenge in Week 2

2015-07-15 06:00

WEEK 2 of SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday 2015 saw 20 participants plus their trusty helpers take on the challenge of spending four hours in a wheelchair.

PE personalities Buli G and APD board member Billy Paulson soon found out that this challenge was not for the faint-hearted.

The opening task was that the participants in the wheelchairs wheel themselves unassisted to their cars. Suddenly the once unnoticeable decline of the Sherwood SPAR car park felt like a downhill in the winter Olympics!

The intention to sensitise able-bodied people to the challenges of wheelchair users and other mobility-impaired people are soon realised, as Debbie Daly from Investec Bank discovered: “On my excursion, many people were willing to assist with putting the wheelchair in the car, pushing the wheelchair up and down ramps, and helpful SPAR staff wanting to assist with grocery picking, and doing the extra stretching to make up for your lack of mobility. I must say their faces showed true compassion. Those who are truly disabled who make a trip to the SPAR on their own are in good hands. But there are also those older people who have ailments who do not get such treatment, as I discovered in the post office line.

“A wonderful husband and wife couple wanted me to enter the post office before them, although the husband was not very mobile and was using a walking rail. Their regard for their own circumstances took second place to me being in a wheelchair. I was touched by this experience.I explained that I was participating in the SPAR wheelchair challenge.

“The lady opened up to me about her challenges regarding standing in long queues at their age as they experienced joint pains and long queues were traumatic. It is easy to notice someone in a wheelchair and offer assistance, but it is often forgotten that older people have less propensity to be able to endure long waits in queues which can cause stress and trauma during their experience.”

Maro Swanepoel of Die Burger said, “Entering the post office door was difficult due to the width, although I was delighted to see that they had a lower counter for wheelchairs. Drawing money at the auto teller in the centre was impossible. The ATM was very high and the screen glared so I could not read it. A wheelchair-bound person has no privacy when trying to enter his or her pin. The centre’s wheelchair bathroom is completely inadequate; the space is too small to manoeuvre around. I entered facing but quickly realised I had to reverse out, then reverse back inside in order to try to use the facilities.”

Swanepoel concluded, “Now sitting in my office chair, I can feel the aches and pains in my upper body, lower back, hands, and arms from being in a wheelchair for four hours. I can only imagine how the body aches after a full day. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be enlightened through this experience.”

The campaign stretches over the five Wednesdays in July and will see 120 teams participating. The 4-Hour challenge also results in the wheelchairs that are used by the participants being handed over to needy beneficiaries. This will happen at the gala handover ceremony on August 5 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Anyone interested in taking part can contact Marie Sin Hidge at 084 586 7704.

Visit the Wheelchair Wednesday Facebook Page for more exciting stories

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