Wheelchair Wednesday moves into Year 4

2015-06-17 06:00
Spar Eastern Cape CEO Conrad Issacs (left) and Marketing Manager Abri Swart (right) hand over the 2015 sponsorship cheque to a happy Brian Bezuidenhout APD Executive Director at the recent Spar Ladies’ Race.

Spar Eastern Cape CEO Conrad Issacs (left) and Marketing Manager Abri Swart (right) hand over the 2015 sponsorship cheque to a happy Brian Bezuidenhout APD Executive Director at the recent Spar Ladies’ Race. Photo: SUPPLIED

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THE power of wheels is often underappreciated. Daily people rely on wheels – two or four – for all kinds of mobility needs, but mostly for getting from A to B. But 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 space and place challenges that come with it.

This exercise of imagination is the motive behind the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD’s) fundraising and awareness initiative, dubbed Wheelchair Wednesday.

“The APD will continue to keep the idea simple but effective,” said Brian Bezuidenhout, APD Executive Director. “So we thought, what better way to raise awareness, funds and turning the tables on traditional thinking about people with physical disabilities than to give able-bodied people some insight and perspective into our everyday 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 July 2015. This way our leadership from the public and private sectors gains deeper insight into our obstacles and can provide opportunities at the same time.”

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

The APD aims to get 100 local high-flyers to come on board. These business and public sector participants each donate R5000 to take part in Wheelchair Wednesdays, and these donations will ultimately translate into 100 wheelchairs which will go to needy beneficiaries. The 4 years of the initiative’s existence will see 350 needy 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 SPAR 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 naming sponsor SPAR, which has contributed “extensively” to the campaign. “It is with much gratitude that we acknowledge the financial assistance of SPAR for their continued assistance in getting the project off the ground. We also acknowledge the assistance of our other sponsors who have come on board,” added Bezuidenhout.

1 July, being week 1 of the campaign will see 25 eager participants gather at the Linton Grange SuperSpar for the start of their 4-hour challenge. “To ensure that the participants get the maximum effect we will be strapping their feet together,” says Bezuidenhout. Algoa FM will have an outside broadcast unit at the centre with regular live crossings to participants who will be sharing their experience.

Read more on:    nelson mandela bay

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