Wheelchair Wednesday initiates positive structural change at offices

2016-09-07 06:00
Die Burger Mr PE Nicholas Affat took part in the Wheelchair Wednesday challenge.   Photo: SUPPLIED

Die Burger Mr PE Nicholas Affat took part in the Wheelchair Wednesday challenge. Photo: SUPPLIED

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“LOOKING into the display fridge to select my favourite flavour ice cream was a problem. I could only see up to my seated eye level. My hands are filthy and my body is sore but what an eye-opening experience it was getting to learn what if feels like to live in a chair like many people do.”

These were some of the comments from a rather tired Die Burger Mr PE Nicholas Affat after he spent 4 hours in a wheelchair last week as part of the Wheelchair Wednesday initiative.

“I’ve got a new-found respect for wheelchair users’ struggles. So go out there and support Wheelchair Wednesday. It’s an amazing initiative, doing amazing work,” said Affat.

Summerbreeze Superspar was the departure point for the 50 participants in Week 4 of the 5 week project. Every Wednesday able bodied participants from a wide range of Nelson Mandela Bay businesses pay to experience 4 hours in a wheelchair.

Armed with a list of tasks to perform, participants of the Spar Wheelchair Wednesday realise that for a start a wheelchair user needs a larger than normal car boot and that your assistant needs larger than normal muscles to place the wheelchair into the boot area.

In the meantime the participant spending the four hours in the wheelchair with his ankles strapped, digs deep to use all his arm muscle strength to swing into the passenger seat.

Legal Aid South Africa’s two participants Abongile Tyopo and Linéll Nel, found that they needed to dig deep to perform the basic tasks that they were given to perform during their 4 hours in the wheelchair.

Getting up and down at the Legal Aid Resource Centre in Sydenham was however much easier. The car park had a number of wide parking bays situated close to the entrance. The ramp to the front door had a more than comfortable 1 in 14 gradient. Inside the building the compact wheelchair lift assisted Linell Nel in the wheelchair, and her assistant Abongile Tyopo to get to the first floor with ease.

Branch Manager Lynette Franklin who was on hand to receive them, thanked their landlord Alec Brett for his co-operation in converting the premises to be universally accessible.

Franklin acknowledges the impact of the Spar Wheelchair Wednesday initiative and attributed much of the positive structural change at the Legal Aid South Africa offices to their experiences whilst participating in all 5 years of the project’s existence.

Spar Wheelchair Wednesday is a project initiated and managed by the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD) Nelson Mandela Bay. This year the project will hand over 130 wheelchairs to needy people within the city. Over the 5 years that the campaign has been running, 500 wheelchairs have been handed out.

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