People's Post

Event for differently abled children from across Cape Town brings different worlds together

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About 50 people attended the Colour My World event held at Maynardville Park on Saturday 7 January.PHOTO: Supplied
About 50 people attended the Colour My World event held at Maynardville Park on Saturday 7 January.PHOTO: Supplied

Differently abled children from across Cape Town came together at Maynardville Park in Wynberg earlier this month to participate in an awareness event called Colour My World.

Focussed on raising awareness of the needs of children with disabilities, the initiative organises outings and workshops for differently abled children and their parents.

About 50 people, including children, parents and volunteers, attended the event held at the park on Saturday 7 January.

Nazleen Carelse, the driving force behind the event, says it was a day of free play and fun. “We explained to the children that we are having the event to celebrate their lives, that each and everyone who joined on the day was uniquely special,” says Carelse.

Fun activities included face painting, board games, beading and rock painting. There was also a pinata.

“The kids had so much fun taking turns, hitting the pinata and receiving more gifts and eats,” says the Bergvliet resident.

Carelse says, for her, the highlight of the day was seeing the volunteers’ kids and differently-abled kids spend time together.

“Bringing the two worlds together. That was the most beautiful part of the day. That the kids who hardly get out because of their disabilities were among kids with ‘no’ disabilities.”

It was also an opportunity for parents to connect. Carelse says parents are in need of support. “This is what we want to do. Get volunteers to help with physio and counselling for kids and parents.”

Carelse has a soon-to-be 12-year-old son, Devin, who has epilepsy. The single mother says the need to get involved kicked in when Devin started school at Vista Nova Primary. The public special school, located in Rondebosch, offers a multi-disciplinary team approach to the holistic education of the children attending the school. The children are accepted on the basis that they have certain barriers to learning which need to be overcome.

“The day I saw all the kids with different abilities, my heart went out to each child, parent and teacher,” says Carelse.

She organised the first event three years ago. “On the day of the first celebration of life party, a mom thanked me for inviting her child. She told me because her daughter is wheelchair-bound and ‘different’, she never gets invited to parties. That is when the seed for Colour My World was planted.”

But then Covid happened.

With the pandemic and restrictions in the rear-view mirror, Carelse says she hopes to register the Colour my World initiative as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) later this year.

“My vision is to register the NGO and get as many professional therapists in to assist parents who need help with their children and themselves.”

Plans include holding monthly talks given by specialists in their fields (including a special needs facilitator, speech and occupational therapists, and counsellors), extra mural activities to assist children with their schoolwork, as well as arranging outings to local places of interest.

“We hope to get companies on board that will help with the outings for the children, material for the workshops and venues,” says Carelse.

She says, having seen the happiness on the faces of the children and parents, she is more inspired than ever.

“I just look at my boy; strict bedtime, rules we need to adhere to regarding seizures. This breaks him down because he wants to be like ‘other kids’, stay up late, have sleepovers, drink coke. What I wish for me and my son, I wish for the other kids and parents.”

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