Initiative donates 600 wh eelchairs to disabled persons

2017-07-26 06:01

THE power of wheels is often an under appreciated thing. Daily, people rely on wheels for all types of mobility needs, but mostly for getting from point A to B.

Just imagine what it is like spending everyday reliant on a tool, like a wheelchair, that is completely central to one’s existence and the challenges that come with it.

This exercise of imagination is the motive behind the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities’ (APD) fundraising and awareness initiative, Wheelchair Wednesday. “The APD will continue to keep the idea simple but effective,” said Brian Bezuidenhout, APD’s executive director.

“So, we thought, what better way to raise awareness and funds and turn the tables on traditional thinking about people with physical disabilities than to give able-bodied people insight and perspective into our lives?

“The method? Getting company heads, chief executives and city leaders in general to pledge to spend four hours in a wheelchair every Wednesday in August.

“This way our leadership from the public and private sectors gains deeper insight into our obstacles and can provide opportunities at the same time,” he said.

With over 100 000 people with disabilities living in Nelson Mandela Bay, this is a well-needed perspective, added Bezuidenhout.

The APD is aiming at getting 120 local high-flyers to come on board this year.

These business and public sector participants each donate R5 500 to take part in Wheelchair Wednesday. The donations will ultimately translate into 150 wheelchairs which will go to needy beneficiaries.

The initiative’s six years of existence will see 600 people receiving wheelchairs.

“One of the major factors that prohibit persons with disabilities from integrating and functioning normally within society is the issue of reasonable accommodation,” Bezuidenhout explained.

“It is to this end that we have devised this awareness campaign. The Wheelchair Wednesday initiative will once again challenge the mindset of the decision-makers within society and help to bring about an unprecedented paradigm shift in the way persons with disabilities are treated.”

The initiative has the support of several sponsors, including SPAR, Network 21 and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, who have all contributed extensively to the campaign.

“It is with much gratitude that we acknowledge the financial assistance of our main sponsors for their continued assistance in sustaining the project. We also acknowledge the assistance of our other sponsors who have come on board,” added Bezuidenhout.

The first week of the campaign, which is set to kick off on August 2, will see 30 eager participants gather at a SPAR store for the start of their four-hour challenge.

“To ensure that the participants get the maximum effect we will be strapping their feet together,” said Bezuidenhout.

“Exciting news is that, after attending the 2016 handover ceremony where 150 wheelchairs were handed over, Executive Mayor Athol Trollip announced that he and his mayoral committee will participate in the campaign by spending time in a wheelchair.”

For more info contact Brian Bezuidenhout on 082 450 3581 or brian.bezuidenhout@
apdnmb.org.za.

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