Kids take on different sport

2011-03-16 08:41

The students at the KwaZamokuhle School for the Physically Disabled at Loskop are a gutsy lot.

Not only do they excel at wheelchair basketball, soccer, table tennis, athletics and netball, but the youngsters recently took on – and beat – all but one of the 18 schools for the able bodied in their uThukela region in a very different sport: debating.

The school finished second in the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife inter-schools biodiversity and environmental awareness debating contest.

The competition started in 2002 and involves conservation officers going to schools and communities to educate students and teachers about green issues.

This year was the first time that a school for the disabled was allowed to participate, but the youngsters from KwaZamokhule took it all in their stride.

They came second in the contest, with a presentation on endangered species, focusing on the oribi, a type of buck that is found in the area and which faces extinction.

Nosipho Majola (15) said going up against children not living with disabilities was a challenge, but she has gained more confidence and determination from the experience.

“It taught us how powerful we are among other children. We might be living (with) some challenges but we are smart and now we have more confidence after beating all these normal schools,” said Majola.

Majola, who is from Empangeni, suffers from a condition which affects the knees and her ability to walk.

But, in front of the several hundred people who turned out for the contest, she didn’t see herself different from any other child in the hall, captivating them with her knowledge of the threats the oribi faces.

Ayanda Cele, one of the other KwaZamokhule debaters, who has spina bifida, focused on telling people how to spot the rare oribi, with a presentation on its coloration and habits.

“I’d never thought I could do it, until I did. It was a nice experience which taught us so many different things about ourselves, how significant we are, and how important it is to conserve nature,” he said.

Their coach for the contest, school administrator Lindiwe Manyoni, said she was impressed by just how much they had learned and their ability to pass on their knowledge to others.

School principal Sibongile Dlamini was ecstatic about how much hard work the children had put into the competition, going far further than they had hoped.

“They have beaten mainstream schools; to us it is a victory. We need things that could keep them encouraged and more willing to engage themselves in activities where they go against (able bodied) children. They don’t need to feel sidelined,” she said.

KwaZamokuhle is a school for physically challenged children from grade R to grade 7. It was established by the Lutheran Evangelical Church in 1988.

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