Walking in silence

2019-09-17 06:00
Members from the Newlands and deaf communities participate in the annual Silent Walk.

Members from the Newlands and deaf communities participate in the annual Silent Walk.

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Hundreds of people from Newlands and the deaf community gathered in the area for the 5km Silent Walk on Friday 6 September.

The annual event, arranged by DeafSA Western Cape, is aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of the deaf community in the province.

Participants were asked to wear earplugs for the duration of the walk and to communicate using sign language only. Starting from Bastion of the Deaf, corner of Thickett and Hemlock roads, participants followed a route that meandered through Newlands.

Premier Alan Winde was one of the energetic people who put on their walking shoes to commemorate Deaf Awareness Month. Provincial ministers Albert Fritz, Sharna Fernandez and Anroux Marias also attended.

Winde said doing the walk with earplugs in and in complete silence gave him a small glimpse into what the deaf community experiences every day. “I think walking a mile in someone’s shoes and experiencing what they go through on a daily basis is so important in building understanding and empathy in our society. I encourage other residents to take part next year.”

Fritz, the provincial minister of community safety, said it was quite a challenging task as it demonstrated how much we rely on sound in our day-to-day lives. “From a safety perspective, it showed the additional risk that deaf people face as they cannot hear people or things which may threaten their safety. Even walking on the street can be a challenge as you cannot hear a car hooting.”

Halfway through the walk, participants completed callisthenics. On their return, they were treated to snacks and various performances. Fritz said he was grateful for having been invited to the event by DeafSA.

“It has increased my awareness and understanding. I look forward to returning again next year,” he said.

The event is supported by WesternCape on Wellness (WoW!), a healthy lifestyle initiative of the provincial department of health.

The Western Cape government supports initiatives and organisations that encourage inclusivity, and which heighten awareness of deafness, disability and of other marginalised groups.

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