Record return for Wheelchair Wednesday

2016-09-28 06:00
At the SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday handover ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium were, back, from left, Wendy Westraadt (SPAR EC promotions and advertising manager), Brian Bezuidenhout (APD executive director), Roseann Shadrach (SPAR promotions and advertising controller), executive mayor Athol Trollip, Debadene Baatjies (SPAR promotions and advertising assistant). In front, from left are wheelchair recipients Vuyisile Maewe, JK Mbola and Nombulelo Ntingila.                               Photo: LEON HUGO

At the SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday handover ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium were, back, from left, Wendy Westraadt (SPAR EC promotions and advertising manager), Brian Bezuidenhout (APD executive director), Roseann Shadrach (SPAR promotions and advertising controller), executive mayor Athol Trollip, Debadene Baatjies (SPAR promotions and advertising assistant). In front, from left are wheelchair recipients Vuyisile Maewe, JK Mbola and Nombulelo Ntingila. Photo: LEON HUGO

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AS Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip committed himself to a Wheelchair Wednesday exercise, SPAR Eastern Cape and the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD) announced a record handover of wheelchairs recently.

In its fifth year, the APD initiative, backed by SPAR Eastern Cape, saw enough funds raised to provide 152 wheelchairs for those in need, bringing the overall total to 521 chairs since the project was first launched in 2011.

Wheelchair Wednesday traditionally takes place in August and sees celebrities and company representatives spending four hours in a wheelchair at a shopping centre to experience the challenges faced by those with disabilities.

They were tasked with completing simple daily chores, such as using an automatic teller machine, buying groceries and visiting a coffee shop, to better understand the real-life challenges faced by people with disabilities.

At a function hosted by Access Management at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager, Wendy Westraadt, said the project was “something which touched out hearts.”

The executive mayor was equally humbled by the occasion. Welcomed as one of the VIPs, Trollip said afterwards, “The real VIPs are the people who go out of their way to assist people who can’t help themselves.

“I know we have to do a lot more in government to take care of people with disabilities. And that’s not to take care of them in a patronising way, but to make them feel part of society.

“I have now committed myself to a Wheelchair Wednesday next year because I think it’s important for people who are able-bodied to understand how difficult it is to live in society if you are disabled.”

Westraadt paid tribute to the many companies and celebrities who had thrown their weight behind the project.

“We came on board because we know there is a very deep need which must be filled and it’s one of our favourite events of the year,” she said.

Besides assisting those in need, Westraadt said SPAR’s involvement was also focused on making sure their stores provided a comfortable shopping experience for those in wheelchairs.

APD executive director Brian Bezuidenhout said they were delighted at achieving their target of raising funds for at least 150 wheelchairs.

“This year has been absolutely amazing. Last year we handed out 120 and this time we set ourselves the target of achieving 150 wheelchairs,” he said.

Bezuidenhout said there were an estimated 100 000 people with disabilities in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“About 10 percent of those are wheelchair users and I can tell you half of them don’t have wheelchairs.

“The corporates have been amazing, with a lot of repeat supporters, as well as new people coming on board. And that’s why it is growing each year,” he concluded.

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